“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Anais Nin
I do not possess one of the sharpest memories and the habit of forgetting stuff seems to be getting worse instead of better. Shonda Rhimes, in her book 'A Year of Yes', captures our problem clearly when she says, about her memory:
"My brain, she is old. Really old. Gumming-her-food old... My memory sucks... Names are forgotten, details of one event are switched with another... The insides of my brain are a fading photograph, stories and images drifting away to places unknown. Leaving patches of nothingness where a name or an event or a location should be... My memory is ever-so-slowly being replaced by blank spaces. The details of my life are disappearing. The paintings are being stolen off the walls of my brain. It’s exhausting. And confusing. And sometimes funny. And often sad."
I, therefore, rely on tools to capture anything I consider important to remember so that I can easily come back to them and remind myself. This blog is also that space for me. Anything I capture here is for my benefit later on. Later on is sometimes that same day, the next day, a week later, a month later etc. ♥️
I stopped making New Year’s resolutions many years ago, I just could not take the continuous self disappointment any more. I, instead, have missions and guideposts that I focus on for specific lengths of time that I run throughout the year. My favourite and longest being 90-day missions; the easiest being the 21 day missions and in between, the 66 day missions. There’s research that says that it takes 66 days to effectively change or develop a new habit.
This 1st of January 2020 got me to consider a few guideposts for the year. My story, which I am sticking to, is that these are NOT resolutions 😅. When considering these, as always, I went inside into my quiet space to enquire and allowed ideas to bubble up to my awareness. That’s when “Better Habits” came up and I ticked as I made a mental note to include exercise and doing important things on time (opposite of procrastinating) under that. In fact, I plan to get into the habit of tackling the necessary activities I resist the most, first. Now, that’s definitely going to be a stretch.
When “Positive Thinking” came up next, I gave it an enthusiastic tick as I acknowledged that it was a key guidepost and possibly a source of everything including the better habits ticked first.
“Clean Eating” got me thinking a bit as I pondered over some of my habitual food items I did not consider clean. Having been a comfort / emotional eater for so long, there were foods or snacks that I had come to associate with own ‘therapy’. I could feel that this was going to be yet another challenging mission but thank God I recognized how important it was for both my health and quality of life. I gave it a tick accompanied by a prayer carrying nudge.
In short, I welcomed these three with relative ease, knowing that I could “do” them and have actually been working with these, on and off, for some years now.
The fourth and the last one, “Loving myself” took me by surprise; not the guidepost itself because there was no arguing about its importance. I was surprised by the automatic internal reaction, or resistance rather. “Not after all the work I have done on myself”, I thought. But there was no mistaking that there was unwillingness to work with this guidepost. Part of me even wanted to argue that there was no need to work on this because I already loved myself. I could identify the deceitful tone in the claim because somehow it weighed heavier than the other three.
All this reminded me of a story I found rather funny and almost stupid some years back which I now realise was neither funny nor stupid at all. The story goes:
When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy.You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’” A certain ruler asked, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said. When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Luke 18:18, 20-23 NIV
Receiving the internal guidepost urging me to “Love Myself” in 2020 felt like I was that rich young ruler who was told to sell all his riches and follow Him that he referred to as a Good Teacher. Sadly, the story of the rich young ruler does not have a happy ending. Was I also going to walk away feeling sad and abandon the mission altogether?
Before I could answer that question, I realised that there was a need to explore the source of the resistance I caught in myself. The biggest piece of this puzzle was how a people-loving person like me could all of a sudden, in 2020, resist the notion of loving myself. At that moment, I decided to drop the guard and be honest with myself. This opened up a surprising torrent of self reflective questions such as:
Could I still be harbouring a belief that it was wrong to love myself?
Do I still view self love as equivalent to conceit and arrogance?
Could I be entertaining the belief that loving myself meant putting myself on a “better than” pedestal?
If any of these beliefs still prevails, how possible was it that I would not battle with self love?
“But come on, I should know better than be a captive of those old beliefs, shouldn’t I?” I thought that, I had long counteracted all those beliefs with the simple argument pointing to the instruction to “love my neighbour as myself”. Did I not?
It had long become clear to me though that it was very possible and easy to love others more than self; disputing the notion of not being able to give what you don’t have. I would however argue that the quality of whatever is given from an empty cup, (love in this instance) might be questionable though. This now reminds me of a song by the group called ‘Air Supply’ which I took a liking to many years ago but could not say what it was about it that I loved. I was particularly drawn to the chorus line that kept on saying: “Making Love Out of Nothing At All”
Coming back to the subject of self love, if I claim to love others but am shy of taking a stand for self love, which probably means that I do not love myself; could it be that I continuously abdicate the job and expect / demand others to love me? As I pondered this question I saw an image, in my mind, like a pyramid scheme drawing, with each person only loving the one above and expecting love from those below.
This was a sobering image. There was no way I would allow something as important as love for me to be dependent on another. Yes, we are social beings who benefit from another’s love but to depend on it solely when none comes from me is the biggest risk I can fathom.
The most important question, for me right now, then becomes; “how do I love myself?”. I could easily look at everything I do for all the other people I definitely love, and do those things for myself.
How I talk to them, with kindness and give them smiles.
How I keep time when we have appointments.
How I put my phone away to give them undivided attention.
How I buy them gifts and make sure that they never receive any judgmental vibes from me.
How I complement them and encourage them, how I literally become their cheerleader.
How I support and provide a shoulder to cry on for them.
How I stop anything to be available for them when they need me….. etc
I firmly believe that it is in the tangible daily actions I do for myself that I can say I am doing the “self-loving” mission successfully. And so, how I respond to the following questions will be my test daily as I embrace this mission in 2020:
Will I love myself enough to make time for me without the need to be busy all the time?
Will I love myself enough to define my boundaries and have them respected by all including me?
Will I love myself enough to prioritize me, speak my truth, even if it means disappointing another?
Will I love myself enough to feel all my emotions and numb none?
Will I love myself enough to always forgive myself and or another?
Will I love myself enough to listen to the still small voice inside which is my internal guidance system and always trust myself to know?
Will I love myself enough to allow my light to shine as brightly as it is capable without attempting to dim it for any reason – real or imagined?
Will I love myself enough to finish my night cream at the same rate as the day cream?
Here’s to being a conscious source of love in 2020 as I consistently ask myself the question:
The following is a moral story that always pulls all my heartstrings at the same time in beautiful yet indescribable ways. On this special day, the 9th of October 2019, as I look back on the 20 years of being on a spiritual journey; I felt the need to share something of significance. This story is that thing of significance to me.
Once upon a time all feelings and emotions went to a coastal island for a vacation. According to their nature, each was having a good time. Suddenly, a warning of an impending storm was announced and everyone was advised to evacuate the island. The announcement caused sudden panic. All rushed to their boats. Even damaged boats were quickly repaired and commissioned for duty.
Yet, Love did not wish to flee quickly. There was so much to do. But as the clouds darkened, Love realised it was time to leave. Alas, there were no boats to spare. Love looked around with hope.
Just then Prosperity passed by in a luxurious boat. Love shouted, “Prosperity, could you please take me in your boat?” “No,” replied Prosperity, “my boat is full of precious possessions, gold and silver. There is no place for you.”
A little later Vanity came by in a beautiful boat. Again Love shouted, “Could you help me, Vanity? I am stranded and need a lift. Please take me with you.” Vanity responded haughtily, “No, I cannot take you with me. My boat will get soiled with your muddy feet.”
Sorrow passed by after some time. Again, Love asked for help. But it was to no avail. “No, I cannot take you with me. I am so sad. I want to be by myself.”
When Happiness passed by a few minutes later, Love again called for help. But Happiness was so happy that it did not look around, hardly concerned about anyone. Love was growing restless and dejected.
Just then somebody called out, “Come Love, I will take you with me.” Love did not know who was being so magnanimous, but jumped on to the boat, greatly relieved that she would reach a safe place.
On getting off the boat, Love met Knowledge. Puzzled, Love inquired, “Knowledge, do you know who so generously gave me a lift just when no one else wished to help?” Knowledge smiled, “Oh, that was Time.” “And why would Time stop to pick me and take me to safety?” Love wondered. Knowledge smiled with deep wisdom and replied,
“Because only Time knows your true greatness and what you are capable of. Only Love can bring peace and great happiness in this world.”
from the Gurukul
I could write books about the 20 years from 9 October 1999 to date – what a time it had been! The Gurukul ends this story with the following call which I am taking upon myself as padkos for the next many years of growing in love:
The important message is that when we are prosperous, we overlook love. When we feel important, we forget love. Even in happiness and sorrow we forget love. Only with time do we realize the importance of love. Why wait that long? Why not make love a part of your life today?
I was lost in a strange busy city where I knew no one. It was broad daylight and people were busy walking up and down, however, I connected to no one to ask for directions. Walking on foot, trying to find my way back, I tried a “gate” where a few men were sitting and chatting. Interestingly, for a moment in the dream, it felt like I was passing through the “City gate” mentioned in the book of Proverbs 31 (you know how dreams can be like).
As I walked past, contemplating where the exit would take me; I was suddenly stopped, more like halted, by 2 men who told me in a not-so-friendly manner that I would need to pay to get out from that side. So, avoiding any trouble, I quickly turned back to go in the opposite direction hoping to blend in with the crowds. The men pursued me and quickly caught up and said: “lady, that’s not how it works around here; you need to pay”.
Now, I could tell that I was really in trouble.
Suddenly, I remembered that I had often gotten out of trouble by being “nice” and showing the trouble-makers kindness in the hope that they may realize that I didn’t “deserve” any trouble. So, in spite of the fear I felt in my entire body; I smiled and showed them that I did not even have a bag with me and therefore no wallet and no money to pay them with. I told them that I was lost and trying to find my way back to where my wallet was. I told them that since I could not pay them, I would simply find another gate where I would not need to pay. By this time, the men’s eyes were big and round in a scary way. I was not ready for one of them tapping me fast in my vagina, on top of my clothes, saying: “even if you don’t have money, you can still pay us”. Then he had his tongue out as though ready to devour me right there and then.
As I normally do in nightmares, at this point, I jumped out of sleep and woke myself up to find my heart beating very fast with fear and a sense of powerlessness.
Wow! Now, that was the worst dream I have ever had. Whew! I woke up wondering:
What could the dream be about?
Was it a warning perhaps?
After calming myself down, I had the word PTSD flashing in my mind, as though I was getting a message that the interpretation of the dream lied in that word. I have studied Post a Traumatic Stress Disorder both as part of my Junior Degree as well as the Psychology Honours degree and knew that it was a serious disorder. But waking up from the dream I needed a quick reminder. So I consulted the good Dr. Google and I found the following meaning, among many:
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.
Indalo would Ask: “Who does the PTSD belong to mama?” from a “game” we play together to acknowledge that we are sensitive beings who, most of the time, take on other people’s emotions, feelings, and /or illnesses.
Yes, it was a dream and whether I am “sponging” from the many women that are living this dream daily in the world or it is a buried memory coming to surface I do not know and frankly, it does not matter. What matters is that this is the life we live in. The question to ask rather is:
“Who does this PTSD not belong to ?” because that stands to be a shorter list.
I am still shaking with fear, and now anger and pain have joined. Whilst I still don’t know what to do to make this evil stop, I am grateful I have a Soul Dancing workshop coming later this week. I am stepping into this one to dance all the PTSD out of my body, my soul and my spirit. The great thing about Soul Dancing is that I can work with one charge and clear all the anger, the fear and the pain in various sessions. The power in clearing all these emotional charges is that if I don’t, then I am actually choosing to block all the joy, love, lightness and greatness within me.
I am encouraged always to face all my “demons”, this one too, by the following quote from my favourite poet?
The night of the 2nd of September 2019, was like no other night for me as I lay in bed struggling to sleep. Earlier that day, we had received the shattering news that a young woman we were searching and praying for, for over a week, was long dead after being beaten and raped by her murderer whilst collecting a parcel at her local post office. The young woman’s name was Uyinene Mrwetyana . I pray that her name is never forgotten.
She died on the 24th of August – during Women’s Month in our country leaving me and many others asking ourselves if the month means anything at all to some. You see, it is estimated that Uyinene’s senseless killing was among 30 other reported similar cases; all at the hands of fellow human beings in male bodies in South Africa just this August.
Thank God for comedy, because surprisingly, this difficult night where nothing seemed to access my broken heart, I found deep comfort and a sense of awakening in a comedy show on Netflix. The comedian, Dave Chappelle, tells a moving story of a 14 year old boy, named Emmett Louis Till, who was brutally murdered in the early 50s in Mississipi for whistling in appreciation of a lady that came out of a store he and his friends were hanging outside of. The lady happened to have been white at that time in American history.
Official records say that he was murdered after being “accused of offending a white woman in her family’s grocery store”. Coincidentally, Emmett also died in August, on the 28th of August 1955.
Dave, in his dramatic comedian way, describes what was done to Emmett’s body as “hideous”. But then, *and here’s the part, that made me sit up straight*, Chappelle says: “lucky for everybody in America… Emmett’s mother was a fucking gangster“. In all that pain, it is reported that Emmett’s mother insisted on a public funeral service with an open casket. In Chappelle’s brilliant way of telling the story, he points out that the mother whilst in the very midst of a mother’s worst nightmare, she still had the foresight to think about everybody else as she said: “Leave my son’s casket open.” …….. “The world needs to see what they did to my baby.”
Coming back to us, in a lot of ways, I feel that there are many South Africans who deserve the “gangster” status right now (some more than others of course). Uyinene’s friends, family and UCT students handled the social media campaign around her disappearance with such excellent vigour that in the period of her disappearance; no-one, of mature age in South Africa, would say they do not know her. I call that gangsterism of note and I want to give a high 5 to all those great South Africans. It is because of your publicity campaign that even President Cyril Ramaphosa called this “the Dark period for SA”.
Justifiably feeling devastated, as I was, about Uyinene’s murder which brought the reality of the plight faced daily by many of our girl children in South Africa too close home; Chappelle woke me up when he suggested that all the emotions I was feeling, justified as I was, may be due to me “standing too close to the elephant”. This is a phrase/phenomenon that he further explains brilliantly as “the analogy that if you stand too close to an elephant, you can’t see the elephant. All you see is its penis-like skin. You gotta step back and give it a better look”.
Following this, he helps us step back from the sight of the bludgeoned body belonging to Emmet Till on display during that highly publicised funeral to look at where African Americans are in America since then or as a result of that. History records that “Till’s murder was seen as a catalyst for the next phase of the Civil Rights Movement” including the Montgomery bus boycott in December that year. It is alluded that our dearest mother, Rosa Parks, might have been moved by the injustice suffered by Till a few months earlier when she refused to move from her chair on that bus.
Our own elephant?
It may be too soon for us to even want to acknowledge the good that could come from this horrific “dark period” in our country but I am happy to acknowledge that I am consciously standing too close to this elephant because I choose to. It is at this close range to the elephant that I can channel my anger towards positive change – a moral regeneration of some kind, a call for the harshest punishments to the perpetrators of these evil deeds while crying for more decency from the human race in general.
The good news is that I am already aware that the elephant is not just this “penis looking” skin with an eye. Whilst I choose to stand close, I can take breaks and step back to evaluate progress; hopefully, it won’t be too long before we all see and appreciate the beauty of the whole animal in the fruits of our work. May Uyinene Mrwetyana’s death and the many other women never be in vain.
My prayer is for all the loved ones that are impacted even more closely by these heartless killings and/or rapes during this dark period to find comfort in knowing that what they are seeing thorugh the pain and anger is not the whole elephant. The truth as I have come to know it personally is that, indeed, “all things (do) work together for good” and sanity, morality, humaneness and love will rule again in our beautiful South Africa.
My love for stories does not discriminate against any and I find amazing lessons from the stories shared in the Bible. The story below has powerful lessons for me, particularly at this time of the year; as we approach the end of the year in a few hours time with most people saying good riddance to 2018 and looking forward to 2019 in the hope that it will be a “better” year compared to 2018.
The story is extracted from the book of Jeremiah, chapter 29:
This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those (He) carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon:
It will be a long time. Therefore build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.
“When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
The Almighty God sent His beloved people to exile in Babylon from Jerusalem after they had not listened to Him over a long time.
He then sends his prophet Jeremiah to write this letter to all His people in exile so they may be informed.
In the letter, the key message to them is that “it will be a long time” before he brings them out of exile; 70 years to be precise.
“Therefore”, the letter continues and then lists a number of things they should focus on to enjoy themselves where they are instead of whining about going home.
God reminds them that His promises to them are good and He always fulfills them.
He reminds them again that His original plans have always been to prosper them and give them hope and a future and never to harm them.
The Lord also tells them to pray for the good (peace and prosperity) of the cities they currently dwell in as captives because that’s where they will also benefit from.
I don’t know about you, but my first take from this message is a powerful lesson about being present wherever I am in life, no matter what is happening – what we nowadays call ‘the Power of the NOW’. I find it easier to escape into fantasy or step into regret when I face tough times or life is not going according to my plans and literally wait for the improvement of that situation. Imagine if I did that for an entire 70 years.
God is literally telling His people to continue to LIVE, have FUN and BE PRODUCTIVE in exile, in spite of the exile conditions. Yes, He told them to laugh and play, get married and have children. Putting their lives on hold until God got them out of exile could actually be a sin because it would be a defiance of God’s message.
70 years is a long time my friend and a lot could have happened in that time. Some people surely died in exile, holding on to the promise of going home. Did that change the plans that God had for all His people? In Hebrews 11, after going through a list of people considered to be the heroes of faith, the writer concludes chapter 11 by saying:
All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
I don’t know what year 2018 was for each of us. For some it could have been year 5/70; whilst for others year 35/70 or even 69/70. I therefore also don’t know what year 2019 will be for each of us. I have no idea who our captors will be either. What I know is that we are commanded to live our best lives as long as there is breath coming out wherever we are. We are commanded to be present in each moment, experience everything and even pray for the captor’s prosperity and peace. Perhaps we can lead clean up campaigns in the cities we live in and not only send money home to take care of the environment there. Perhaps we can finally start that recycling program and take care of the planet as we recognize ourselves to be global citizens. Perhaps, we can consider taking care of the orphans in the cities we work in. The list is endless.
May we all have a beautiful 2019 filled with love and gratitude. May we embrace each moment and not miss a thing. If any of us dies during 2019, as it is sure to happen; may we die having lived our best lives. Simply because God says so. He knows the plans He has for us and they are plans for us to prosper, plans to give us hope and a future.
“She died in a good space, she had done a Turning Point workshop”.
The following paragraph from A Course in Miracles (ACIM) has a great significance for me when it comes to this story:
The acceptance of the Atonement by everyone is only a matter of time. This may appear to contradict free will because of the inevitability of the final decision, but this is not so. You can temporize and you are capable of enormous procrastination, but you cannot depart entirely from your Creator, Who set the limits on your ability to miscreate. An imprisoned will engenders a situation which, in the extreme, becomes altogether intolerable. Tolerance for pain may be high, but it is not without limit. Eventually everyone begins to recognize, however dimly, that there must be a better way. As this recognition becomes more firmly established, it becomes a turning point. This ultimately reawakens spiritual vision, simultaneously weakening the investment in physical sight. The alternating investment in the two levels of perception is usually experienced as conflict, which can become very acute. But the outcome is as certain as God.
ACIM T-2. III. 3.
It was on the 19th of October 2011 that I entered the gates of the Insight Training Centre for a Turning Point workshop.
I had stumbled upon the information about the workshop a few years before. Somebody was telling me that a mutual friend had recently died. And whilst in shock at the news as the person reported dead was once very special to me, I asked how she had died; the bearer of the news, thought for a second, then shrugged her shoulders and said: “I don’t have the details but don’t worry she died in a good space … she had done a Turning Point”.
As though by magic, my mind switched off from the rising pain due to the sad news I had just heard and the shock of the death of someone so young and it latched onto “She died in a good space ….. she had done a Turning Point “.
I had never heard anybody say something so profound about anybody’s state in death before. I was a church goer and there were teachings about the state of the dead and how, throughout our lives, each person was supposed to be in a constant preparation for death and resurrection. But still, no one (I knew) who had died was ever referenced with that kind of certainty – “she died in a good space…“.
Having experienced my own relief after that, I knew that I wanted this Turning Point. I pictured my mom and my children receiving news that I had died ……….. I could not go beyond a second longer with that imagination because I quickly got a glimpse of their despair and devastation. I realized that dying in a “good space” was important to me too. I saw it as the best gift to the loved ones I would be leaving behind. I imagined them being told by many people not to worry because I died in a good space ….. this imagination brought a smile to my heart.
The subject of death was one where everybody I knew treaded carefully around. Growing up there was even a superstitious belief that speaking about death was actually an invitation for it to visit you or a member of your family. I never liked the fear I had of something that was that certain to happen to anyone I cared for – including me – I found it really disempowering. It felt like we were all at the mercy of it.
Remember the above quotation has a line that says:
You can temporize and you are capable of enormous procrastination, but you cannot depart entirely from your Creator,
Trust the master procrastinator in me at the time not to have taken any action or even enquire about the Turning Point after that “awakening” until I received another gentle knock about 7 years later. How could I have not acted on the one thing that was important to me knowing that anyone can die any day? I had no doubt, on that day, that this ‘Turning Point’ was perhaps the only thing that would help me deal with a fundamental fear of death and I didn’t make any effort to find out more. Don’t ask me what I was busy with because I won’t be able to tell you.
The gentle knock came again, thank God. This second time, I was having lunch with a friend at a restaurant in East London on a beautiful summer day in September 2010. We had just come back from doing our nails, something that my girlfriend was introducing me to but unfortunately did not succeed. Whilst deep in our chats, I got distracted by a tall handsome gentleman that walked in – alone. He had a calm confidence about him and a friendly face that had no frown. He looked open and inviting, something that was rare among the men in town at the time, I don’t know now because I only stayed for six months and came back to Johannesburg. The man, then, always looked like they had an agenda and never walked simply straight and open into spaces. This man was a breath of fresh air for me. The most intriguing thing was that he did not seem to be self-conscious in any way. It was like he was simply there to enjoy a meal and then leave.
My friend saw my source of distraction and asked if I knew him. I couldn’t believe my ears. The question meant that my friend knew him; why else would she ask if I knew him. In response, I gave her my biggest smile and moved closer to find out more. Since we were both single, there was a bit of spice in our conversation (which I won’t share here 😂). My friend came closer and whispered his name and a high level ‘CV’. East London is a small town, people know each other but I was only a few weeks back from Joburg where I had spent close to 8 years. She told me that the guy was someone highly regarded as a businessman and consultant. She rained praises on this guy, adding that that if there was one person in town that would be able to assist solve all the problems I was sharing with her from my workplace, it would be him. She went further to say that he could “talk on any subject and win hearts”. At this stage my eyes were wide open. This man was becoming too good, he was starting to sound like a Messiah. Then in an even softer voice she sneaked in the following: “he has done a Turning Point“.
At the mentioning of the name “Turning Point”, I nearly jumped up and whatever I was noticing physically about the guy was forgotten; my mind had latched onto “he has done a Turning Point“. I remembered the first time I heard this name. This was a different person from the one who delivered the news about the friend who “died in a good space” before. At this stage my heart was beating very fast and the superstitious part in me was asking myself what the chances were that I was hearing about the Turning Point again for no divinely orchestrated reason. I was, at the same time, asking myself what this workshop was about because I initially thought that it was meant to prepare people for death. Now, here was a handsome guy, very alive and doing things that were leaving people whispering about him. I also could not shake the ‘jealousy’ that perhaps I was the only one who didn’t know about this ‘seeming’ best kept secret.
The one thing I knew, though, was that I wasn’t going to be that girl that tells people about other people who were experiencing breakthroughs in their lives, and in death, after doing a workshop that I have NOT done.
As a result of that decision, taken at that restaurant in East London, a year earlier, there I was, entering the gates to the Insight Training Centre on the 19th of October 2011.
An imprisoned will engenders a situation which, in the extreme, becomes altogether intolerable. Tolerance for pain may be high, but it is not without limit. Eventually everyone begins to recognize, however dimly, that there must be a better way. As this recognition becomes more firmly established, it becomes a turning point.
Everything about the place; from the tranquil atmosphere (as though I was not in the usually noisy Johannesburg), the bucks and the rabbits enjoying nature, the lion sculptures welcoming me at the top of the stairs to reception; everything was inviting and intriguing to me. All my senses were heightened, they were almost tantalised; I did not miss anything. To say I was fascinated is an understatement. The value of time was the first gifts I received before even the first session started because everything was done on time and time was respected throughout; and yet nothing was left undone that needed to be done. Wow! I kept asking myself: ‘where am I?’ I had a deep knowing though that I had honoured a divine appointment by being there.
Looking back at my life before that day, I thank God for “setting limits” on my “miscreations”. Yes, I had a high tolerance for pain and I had evidence to show for it and powerful growth lessons learnt, but enough was enough. And God had clearly drawn the line for me. Here I was thinking that I was attending just a workshop; little did I know that I had gone for a much needed healing of my soul.
I realise now that my situation was a little worse off than the other participants (I think), because most came clear that they wanted to attend to or shift a specific problem area in their lives that they were unhappy with. Remember that I did not know anyone close to me to give me any information about the workshop because even the two friends that spoke about it to me, had not done it. I also did not know that there were open evenings where people could go listen to a presentation about the workshop. In retrospect, I am happy I did not know – I suspect that it might have taken some of the mystery I was enjoying away from me. I am happy I saw the trainers for the first time in the training room on the 19th of October 2011.
As far as I was aware, my life was perfect – I had nothing to sort or shift. I had the job of my life as a senior manager in Government and was an international Project Leader who was working with the United Nations in a project at the time. I was a single mother without any “man-stress”, I was fine and capable of raising my two teenagers alone. I was a strong woman who did not need any man. I used to brag that I wouldn’t trade my stress-free life for anything. Yes, I was not in a relationship and had not been for a while; in fact, I could not remember when last I had a long term relationship. I was one of those people to whom even the word sex was taboo. I was a strong advocate of the ’90 days waiting period’ before engaging in sex if you really could not wait until after marriage. Don’t ask me how the teenagers came about if these were my “honest’ values. All that I told myself was that, “my life was perfect” just as it was. I had come to attend the Turning Point workshop, not because I needed to correct anything about my life but so that when I died, I would leave my loved ones with a certainty that I died in a good space. Of course, whilst alive I wanted to be just like the man at the East London restaurant, and “talk on any subject and win hearts”.
I can’t say what I expected but I did have expectations of how the trainers would do their job (I had been to many “workshops” before) and get me to obtain what I wanted out of the workshop. But nothing was as I had expected; from the first time I got out of my car towards reception for registration to when I left at the end of Day 5. I am grateful that I was wise enough to quickly drop my ideas of how things should be done because it would have made my experience difficult unnecessarily. And by the way, when I later reflected on my previous experience in workshops, the fact was that I would not remember anything that was done unless I went back to the notes given. I definitely would not be able to share the details as I am doing now from the 5 days of the Turning Point. I am not as fortunate as some people that have great memories. I probably remember 1% of what I learnt in High School and in University. So, it is a very big deal for me to recount lessons learnt in a workshop I attended seven years ago with such vivid clarity.
I remember sitting in the first row at the start of the session on Day 1 my heart almost bursting with gratitude that I was there; that I made it possible, that the trainers were also talking to me. I knew that there was nothing like that experience anywhere in the world. I also knew that, even though I said I made it possible; I was not there out of my cleverness but God had designed it so.
The first thing I got out of, on Day 1, was the small box I had lived all my “perfect” life in (unaware) and got to appreciate the vast universe that was at my disposal. I could share lessons from each day and each game played but that would require me to write a book and not a blog.
Allow me to simply share highlights of lessons learnt from all the exercises, the engagements, the information sharing and the robust +/- 40 “games” we “played” in the 5 days of the workshop:
My relationship with my biological father was healed – though he had died some years ago. Prior to attending the workshop, I did not even think that the relationship needed healing. Him not being present in my life was one of those elements of my “perfect” life.
This also led to a general healing of all my relationship with men which I was not even aware that it needed healing. I just thought that I had devised a great plan of simply not allowing myself to be close to any of those creatures. I told myself that it was just a self-preservation strategy after the many heartbreaks I had suffered. Little did I know that I had actually shut my heart off. And little did I know that the quality of the relationship with my father had a lot to do with my so-called “approach” to men in general.
I was reconciled with lost childhood memories to a point where I remembered a fundamental decision I took as a child (before age 5) which had ruled my entire life subconsciously. I saw how there was never a chance that I could have ever been married with that consciousness. That day, in that short exercise, every experience I had ever had, what I thought of as painful memories – everything just clicked and I could see just how all of them served me.
For the first time, I was able to make sense of what is meant by a verse in 1 Thessalonians 5: 18 “be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you..”
I literally healed a back pain that I had accepted as part of my life the day I got rid of years of the shame I had carried around with me unconsciously for many years.
I was touched and opened up by a song in Day 4 and the strong woman finally yielded rivers of tears for all the pain I caused myself being so tough when I didn’t need to. I opened up to the beauty and strength of my vulnerability which I had long buried in my quest to survive. I carry that lightness to this day.
I got in touch with the beautiful childhood qualities in me which I had long forgotten as I dropped them for the tough exterior that I believed the world wanted to see rather. Suddenly, I did not just experience love in my heart, I had become it – I had become love.
I got in touch with my unique answer to the question: “what do you want?” Knowing what I want has helped me eliminated all sorts of clutter in my life.
The ultimate gift 🎁 from the workshop was in my answering the question “who are you?” and leaving with the clarity of my life purpose forever.
Never was the distance between my concept of God and of myself been so shortened as it was by the answer to that question. Deepak is quoted as having said that this is the most important question for any one human to answer for themselves.
As far as dying in peace is concerned, I can confirm that my relationship with death improved a great deal after the workshop because I am now ready to die any day and I have no regrets about the life I have lived in the 7 years since then.
Can I talk on any subject and win hearts?
I, now, am very conscious of speaking from my heart. Thanks to realising, during the TP, that it had been closed for many years. I definitely consciously strive – on a daily basis – to inspire love, healthy living, justice, peace and trust as my Definition of Success. I no longer chase my tail running after things that no longer add any value to me or anybody for that matter. One of the ways I serve from who I am is by telling these stories. Who knows, someone might be needing a Turning Point in their life and may have started the asking for guidance from the Universe and they land here and my experience resonates with them – that’s a heart won.
When I saw this picture of a typhoon that hit South Korea many years ago, my own childhood fears of strong winds were evoked (a story for another day). Most importantly, for now, the picture reminded me of a beautiful story I read many years ago. I had received it through chain emails that were most prevalent before the days of social media and I had printed and kept it very close to be for years but had lost it along the way.
“Years ago a farmer owned land along the Atlantic seacoast. He constantly advertised for hired hands. Most people were reluctant to work on farms along the Atlantic. They dreaded the awful storms that raged across the Atlantic, wreaking havoc on the buildings and crops.
As the farmer interviewed applicants for the job, he received a steady stream of refusals. Finally, a short, thin man, well past middle age, approached the farmer. “Are you a good farm hand?” the farmer asked him. “Well, I can sleep when the wind blows,” answered the little man. Although puzzled by this answer, the farmer, desperate for help, hired him.
The little man worked well around the farm, busy from dawn to dusk, and the farmer felt satisfied with the man’s work. Then one night the wind howled loudly in from offshore. Jumping out of bed, the farmer grabbed a lantern and rushed next door to the hired hand’s sleeping quarters.
He shook the little man and yelled, “Get up! A storm is coming! Tie things down before they blow away!” The little man rolled over in bed and said firmly, “No sir. I told you, I can sleep when the wind blows.”
Enraged by the response, the farmer was tempted to fire him on the spot. Instead, he hurried outside to prepare for the storm. To his amazement, he discovered that all of the haystacks had been covered with tarpaulins. The cows were in the barn, the chickens were in the coops, and the doors were barred. The shutters were tightly secured. Everything was tied down. Nothing could blow away.
The farmer then understood what his hired hand meant, so he returned to his bed to also sleep while the wind blew.”
Whenever I read this story, suddenly everything becomes a potential wind that could blow anytime without warning; finances, relationships, health, life.
It gets me to assess myself by asking (emotions aside) if I could sleep when strong winds blew in any area of my life. The real enquiry I make is whether I have done all I know I should do, within my powers, at any of these areas of my life knowing that I have no clue what my tomorrow will bring.
If a loved one died, would my tears be solely for the fact that I will miss them or will they be more tears of regret for what I wish I had done with and for them? How much time do I make for people I care for?
If I woke up and had no means to make money, would I sleep through that storm or would I be a nervous wreck. How diligent am I with saving for the future?
If I died…… Is my will up to date?
If the boss wanted that report a week earlier…….
If the exam were to be brought forward ……
If I were to be asked today what I have done with my gifts …..
This list is endless and daily I strive to answer this question boldly and calmly because one thing for sure is that winds will continue to blow in various ways.
So I start this week with this question:
What steps am I going to take to secure my sleep when the winds blow?
With that, I remain grateful for this life and all reminders to play it big and real knowing that, whilst I may never be fully ready for all “winds”, I can still sleep with a clear conscience that as far as possible, I continue to do my part, daily.