In love at Beltane

Juniper Natural Therapies Livvy Adams Bee Helygen Priestess of Ceridwen

Bee Helygen Priestess of Cerridwen and Avalon with Danny from Paintedhorse

Beltane is celebrated on May 1st indicating the half way point of the spring equinox and summer solstice.  The season of union between Goddess and God, of deep found love and the coming together of perfect love and trust.  This appeared to have happened between lovely Bee Helygen, Priestess of Cerridwen and Danny from Paintedhorse on the magical land of Avalon.  The ladies training to be priestess’ of Cerrdiwen with Bee, including our very own Livvy Adams took part in Beltane celebrations calling in the Goddess on the land, singing, connecting and spinning tales of magic and mystery.  The horses made their presence felt at the calling in and later rolled consecutively at the end of the session.  When Livvy completes her Priestess training she will offer a listening ear to people from either her therapy room or outside with the horses.  She also helps animals at their time of crossing over and owners to come to terms with this process. We will keep you posted as to when this service becomes available to the general public.

A New Hope: Forgiveness

Juniper Natural Therapies Paintedhorse A New Hope Therapy Writing

Spending time with ‘Hope’ a gentle soul at Paintedhorse

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shrivelled and closed from fear of further pain” – Oriah Mountain Dreamer

This poem came to mind recently as I left Dorset for pastures new in Glastonbury. This time the part of the poem that jumped out was the bit about betrayals – have I been opened by them?  I am not shrivelled or closed, my heart is still open to people, but was I opened by those betrayals? What does that mean?

Last week I sat in a lay-by pondering my circumstances and options.  I had just managed to get up a winding forest hill road and find a safe place to pull over as my clutch finally burnt out. I was 2.1 miles from where I would be counselling someone in 3 hours.  I was early as I had arranged to meet a friend for a catch up first.  I texted her to let her know and she came to find me. My bladder decided it also wanted in on this drama.  I smiled, no point crying, this is life – see the thread of humour George.  I knew the moment my car died would eventually come, but I had no money to replace the clutch and even if I did this little banger would not make its next MOT due to the amount of welding. Another ‘Dorset’ relationship, over.  My friend met me in the lay by with a drink of water and was amazingly quick at helping pack my car belongings into bags and into her car – my car is like a home so there was quite a bit of stuff!  A local garage agreed to come out and tow away Noddy2 and I watched as he left my life 15 minutes later.  It seemed like the last page of the Dorset chapter had turned and was now closed.  There is a clip in a movie that came to mind for this moment – ‘The Money Pit’ with Tom Hanks who after yet another mishap on his money pit house begins to laugh in a ridiculous way, its hilarious. I am not sure how long this link will last but here.  That was me last week.

Before I left Dorset a few things occurred to test my resolve.  One of which was I heard something that once would have angered me – yet another persons betrayal – but it did not anger me in the same way.  Not since a special equine therapy session last year, where a wise horse told me to make friends with my anger as its not going anywhere.  It was innate emotion, there to protect and there for survival.  Sometimes we are told we are not allowed to show anger, as children anger is not usually tolerated by adults around us.  Some of us are even told its not ‘lady-like’.  So it becomes suppressed within us in different ways, and this is what causes the issues not the anger itself, which if you think about it is quite transient.  To reflect further, I was once quite passive and over many moons eventually learnt that it doesn’t pay to be passive, as in response people were quite nasty towards me or took advantage in one way or another. An art history performance called Rhythm 0 in 1979 conducted by artist Marina Abramovic disturbingly showed what could happen to a passive person with no boundaries.  Reading what happened to this performance artist was chilling, someone tried to rape her, whilst another cut her neck and drank her blood. Interestingly when the performance was over and she became her ‘normal’ self the audience ran away as they couldn’t face her.

How some people treated me upset me, particularly family or those close at one time, my feelings grew into a despair, and at some stage anger surrounded my despair in a layer of protection.  Stored-anger often surrounds grief and sadness and I wonder if at this stage is more accurately called resentment, one that can have an explosive state of rage. Anger if expressed at the time of hurt is usually released quickly and does not cause the injury that suppressed anger can.  Releasing compressed-anger safely has been quite a journey for me.  I have acknowledged all those times I have not spoken up for myself, all those times I have remained silent, all those times people have stepped over my boundaries because I did not make them clear enough, all those times I have put my dreams/goals/wishes to one side for someone else’s. My self-belief that ‘I am not as important’.   I re-wrote my self-belief from childhood scripts, and got under my stored-anger layer. I am now working on releasing grief and despair – so really what better time to have some betrayal?

I recently came across two books and I love the way that happens when you are seeking answers.  In ‘You can Heal your Heart’ by Louise Hay and David Kessler there was a perfect paragraph “every relationship is assigned to you for your healing. Grief after any relationship gives you the window to heal your wounds and begin anew. Each relationship gives you an opportunity to face your fear and anger, they give you the chance to come closer to authentic healing and true love“.   In ‘Returning to Oneness, the seven keys of ascension’ by Leslie Temple-Thurston, I was drawn to chapter three  – ‘the second key: Forgive all betrayals‘.  How apt I thought as she explained ‘forgiveness’ clearly in a way I had not been able to comprehend before.  Having the experience of betrayal and being third dimensional – so therefore in our ego states or analytical mind – we often ‘feel hurt, a sense of loss, breech of trust and even victimised’. We attract more of the same.  I certainly did. The ‘tension of these experiences build up in the diaphragm’ – which is where I grew my cancer tumour of resentment – and this ‘tension-hardened’ muscle acts as a barrier between our 3 base chakras (worldly consciousness) and our 4 higher chakras (spiritual consciousness).

By meditating we can tap into our spiritual consciousness so we can explore further where we maybe holding the hurt of betrayal, as it can store beyond our consciousness. I wondered if this is why we can take emotions such as grief with us into other lifetimes?  I suspect I may have done this, which is why betrayal is being presented to me again – for healing.  Can I be opened by it?  See it as an opportunity to let go of it all and move forward to align to my souls purpose?  Betrayal and resentment, hatred even, has no value to my soul, only love is real (which is another fantastic book by Dr Brian Weiss). Under parental control we became either; ‘dominant/ rebellious/ assertive’ or ‘passive/ submissive/ victimised’, I did fall into the latter, but became more rebellious and outspoken as life went on and my anger grew. When we are born it does not take long before we are plugged into what I refer to as ‘The Matrix’ – yes, after the movie of the same title in 1999.  This matrix is one of control, of separation, and of games and drama of our own making. If we believe something was done to us, we feel separate – this is third dimension stuff.  But we are also fifth dimension beings, vaguely aware that we are trapped in time and space in the third dimension but knowing there is something more than this, and perhaps questioning if any of this is even real?  The truth is that we are all unified, part of each other, oneness.   So I betrayed myself as much as I was betrayed, I chose to come here, I chose to create or be involved in all of my experiences, I chose my parents, friends, relationships – each presenting for an opportunity to heal the soul (from a fifth dimension perspective).  The process of unplugging from the matrix of the third-dimension can be hard, and if we don’t ‘take the blue pill’ and look around its all very familiar, we know this on some level. Can I unlock the second key and forgive myself as well as others?  Can I be opened by life’s betrayals?  As I sat in the horse field most of this week, car-less, with a wonderful herd of ponies feeling anything but separate, I suspect I may have turned the key of forgiveness.

In its place I have begun to create a new business venture with a friend, one who incidentally – for those of you who like to tie up loose ends – got me to my counselling placement in good time so I could complete my final session with my client and then drove me back home to Glastonbury.

Dear Dorset: A letter to a place

 

gerry white horse photo portland

Chesil Beach from Portland – Photography by Gerry White

Creative writing can be a useful tool for personal growth and development.  I recently attended such a workshop with Sue Ashby included as part of my counselling training.  We were challenged to write ‘free-flow’ for 6 minutes, even if we repeated the same word until other words came to mind. We started the exercise with the word ‘If’.  After the 6 minutes we stopped writing and underlined things that interested or surprised us. We then chose a sentence, used it as our next title and began writing again for 6 minutes.  For me, it was great to express and not worry about editing for readers, that was the cathartic bit and the time limit seemed to help with the flow.  It was an interesting exercise which I will take into the counselling room with me for clients who wish to use writing as a way of expressing themselves.  If you like the idea of creative writing for personal development here are 5 more ways to use creative writing for yourself:

  1. A letter from your heart to your mind – for times you have conflict, you could write a letter from both, but often the heart doesn’t have the voice over the logical part of the mind.
  2. A letter from your emotions (anger, sadness, fear, joy) – expressing our emotions can be difficult, it is interesting to see what things get written on free flow.
  3. An unsent letter to someone (or something) lost – because its unsent there is an honesty that can come from free flow writing that allows us to just express our feelings without sending it anywhere…and sometimes there is nowhere to send the letter.
  4. Same event, different perspectives – this is a little bit like the ’empty chair’ exercise in Gestalt therapy where one person talks at an empty chair imagining someone in it, then changes seats and becomes that person to reply. Of course there may be many perspectives over one event which may give the writer more empathy for others at the end of the exercise.
  5. A letter to a place – this could be as a goodbye upon moving and could even be more specific and include an old home, or to express feelings over an event that occurred in a place.

When I move from a place, a home more specifically, I usually smudge with a joss stick or white sage to take my energy with me.  I think I got this practice from reading a Feng Shui book 16 years ago and its stayed as part of my moving homes ritual, which may seem a strange ritual to mention until perhaps I add I have moved 34 times so far.  My DBS checks are always so much fun!  The longest time I have spent in one house is 10 years. This was my family home in the town where I was born, but I only lived in that town throughout my teenage years.  I have stayed in one other county for as long since then, but admittedly moved homes 8 times within its boundaries…

DEAR DORSET,

I first met you in autumn 2007, when I was on a coastal trip from Exeter with St Luke’s Teacher Training College.  The chemists and physicists got to see Lulworth Cove and study the amazing Jurassic rock formations, and the biologists (myself included) walked a steep hill and did quadrat samples on the grass and quite frankly we could have been anywhere in the country.  At least we saw a bit of your coast line whilst having our lunch. On the trip back, a fellow PGCE student asked if I would swap my placement for his as he was a surfer. He had got Weymouth and Poole, whilst I was down for Barnstable and Ilfracombe (better surfing opporunities).  Although Barnstable was where my grandpa George was from originally and I was intrigued about living there, I thought Dorset would be closer to my sister and niece who would be an hour away in Salisbury so I would get to visit more often. I swapped.

I visited you again for several days later that year when I visited my first school placement at Budmouth College in Weymouth.  I met a geography teacher who was looking for a lodger and I moved in with her for the start of Spring term 2008. Barnes Wallis Close my first address here, around the corner from school and perfect for someone without a car.  I got to know Weymouth pretty well, which bus to take to town and when to avoid the bus as it would be full of students!

I bought an old red micra called Noddy just before I moved to lodgings opposite Poole Park for my summer term placement at Parkstone Grammar school, Poole and got to know Poole and Bournemouth fairly well too. I was a big fan of Poole pottery and ‘painting your own’.  I also enjoyed a mindful walk around the lake and sometimes coastal path between lesson planning in the evenings or at weekends.

I returned to Weymouth for my first teaching post at Budmouth and rented a room above a teachers garage for autumn term. I finally admitted defeat when it got so cold in there that the water froze as it touched the sink.  I moved back in with the geography teacher and warmed up for spring and summer term.  At the end of summer that year I organised a fossil hunting trip for a group of year 7 for activities week, we got to explore chisel beach and we went successful fossil hunting.  It was a shame the weather was too bad on the Friday for the glass bottom boat trip on the lagoon. Harry Potter at the cinema was the only thing that could have helped the disappointment – that’s me, not the students.

I explored and climbed your rugged rocks around the isle of Portland, as a mate at the time rented a room from a rock climbing landlord. I recall he had a sofa called ‘the seat of truth’ turned to face the window and the view of chesil beach linking Portland to the mainland in Weymouth.  It was great to watch the sun go down from there.  And it was a sobering walk from the The Cove pub back to her room. When she moved to Weymouth we discovered Finns, a very important haunt that got us both through a standard teaching week!

In Sep 2009 I moved to Portland to teach at Royal Manor, and lived in Wakeham by Church Ope Cove which was peaceful at that time of year.  I often walked down the many steps to the beach to listen to the waves crashing upon the rocks and pebbles.  I once ran from Fortuneswell to Portland Bill Lighthouse with a colleague who was training for a half marathon. My goal was to blow off the teaching blues and being ex Army I always think I can just do these things without training.  I recall I couldn’t walk normally for about 2 days much to the students amusement.  Years later I would finally get around to walking up all the steps in Portland Bill and be lucky enough to see dolphins swimming up to the boats out at sea from one of the windows.  On the rugged rocks around Portland Bill after a nostalgic walk around Fortuneswell I even received a marriage proposal.

I briefly left you in 2010 when my career in teaching came to an abrupt end, and consequently I couldn’t afford to stay in my flat so stayed at a mates in Amesbury whilst she was on tour.  Weeks later Budmouth offered me a supply teaching post which I came back for but sadly the damage of teaching was already done.  I did however make up my mind to stay and the only way that was achievable was to invite a long lost father to rent with me – and his two terriers.  We moved to dog friendly Cerne Abbas in a lovely home called Ginger Fox Cottage, Duck Street and I could see the cheeky Giant waving his bits at me every morning as I drew back the curtains.  I appreciated the village life in your more rural parts and I soon rekindled my love of horses up the road at Home Farm in Minterne Magna and it all inspired me to set up my business Juniper Animals.

I bravely took a teaching assistant job at Colfox in Bridport to support my business and became a little more familiar with your more arty bohemian town.  A year later I took up lecturing at Kingston Maurward college teaching the science and welfare subjects in the Animal Care dept.  Moving around the campus between lessons sure beat the noisy corridors of a secondary school.  My niece joined us for a year in Cerne and she ran wild in a way you could as a child in yesterday years.

In October 2013 my niece and I moved to your county town of Dorchester. We went on several ghost walks and learnt more about the Roman town of Durnovaria and often went for walks around the place taking in the old architecture.  I became reacquainted with Lulworth Cove and other old haunts as I explored them again with my niece.  For her birthday we went on a coastal activity and got to kayak out of your cove and around the coast towards Durdle door. We ditched the kayaks at the stair hole for a bit of coasteering – can’t beat a bit of jumping off rocks into the sea in October!

When a friend moved in with us for a while and we got touristy once more. I finally visited Brownsea island and travelled around Old Harry Rocks by boat.  We visited Athelhampton house which is just stunning and we set the world to right in the secret hiding seats between two conifers in the garden.  My niece and I got to know your Piddle Valley area very well as that’s where Jac our first horse lived for 3 years. I enjoyed the hacks out and foraging in the hedgerows with him.  There was a bit of time spent in Dorchester hospital when my niece was paralysed, but thankfully more time spent at Aquae Sulis chiropractors where she fully recovered. I remember I had to find a posh dress to wear for the Venus Business awards finalists ceremony in Poole and I never did find out who voted for me in the first place.

I began my counselling studies in Dorchester, and continued at Poundbury, where I have watched Prince Charles’ project town develop more and more.  I have even spotted 2 royals whilst being here.

Like my teaching career, fostering came to an abrupt end. It ended before my counselling training was finished and the only way to continue studying and keep Jac (our pony) was to give up renting the flat. An opportunity came up which would mean leaving you, but I did not take it as I had decided to wait.  Wait to see if ‘blood is thicker’ than the pull of dark energy. Wait to see if there was any foundation to that marriage proposal on the rocks at Portland. I embraced my vulnerability in waiting, then I accepted my reality, there was nothing more to wait for as it was all in the past.  As they say, there’s no point looking back, as you ain’t going that way. Thankfully that opportunity has come back around to make sure it collects me this time. Dorset, I appreciate you letting me stay this long, and I am grateful for a real mix of opportunities and adventures here.  I may have moved many times but goodbyes don’t get easier, so here is my fond farewell to you and I ask you to look after all those lovely people I have met here over the last 10 years, even those who are no longer part of my life. I’m not going too far away and I will no doubt be back to visit from time to time.

“And suddenly you know its time to start something new and trust the magic of new beginnings” – Eckhart von Hochheim.

 

 

 

Great Expectations

tania

When I first heard Carrie Bradshaw say these lines I recall they resonated with me as that’s what I have been looking for. My whole life. Until recently this ideal had never been challenged.  I don’t mean people had never suggested to me that my expectations were too great or I had a ‘fairy tale complex’, I mean I myself had never challenged this belief. What was my belief exactly? Well, boy meets girl, they fall in love, they live happily ever after. Like my own Gran and Grandpa who were married 50 years until physically separated by death. And where did this belief come from? Childhood I guess. I remember reading a lot of ‘Happily Ever After’ books and dreaming about my moment of riding off into the sunset.

I had a few reality checks along they way.  Parents divorce. Estranged father. First boyfriend cheating on me. Second boyfriend cheating on me. Husband cheating on me. You may have noticed a pattern?  I remember the first year of marriage being a huge shock to the system because of my expectations of what it would be like.  I often thought, ‘why on Earth did my mother not warn me about this?’  Why was my marriage so hard?  We are supposed to be on ‘happily ever after’ now.  My sister wisely reflected, that after a wedding such as I had had (rural Scotland, old castle, hilarious ceilidh) that anything after that was going to be decidedly less exciting. One of the last days I spent in my marital home before we separated, I recall looking at the beautiful, solid, Mexican pine furniture he had insisted on getting as ‘it would last’.  He was right, it did.  Longer than our marriage.

I insisted afterwards, that I would meet ‘the one’, he was still out there.  I would just have to be wiser or an even better idea – I would just listen to my friends opinions on who I picked next, as they seemed to know my ex-husband wasn’t right for me long before I did.  I basically gave away my power as I didn’t trust myself at all.  I had a brief relationship a year later, only when it ended I realised it was the infamous ‘rebound’ one. Whilst we were together I remember an uncle asking me ‘do you think you can keep this one this time?’  I replied, ‘the real question is whether he can keep me’. Good retort, but his words did hurt me.  They hurt because they resonated with another script, that it was my responsibility for keeping a relationship together. Even when it was clear ‘this-one-this-time’ was using all my money up.

Fast forward to a decade later, I finally got my fairy tale boy-meets-girl which reinforced by script, my belief.  My niece had come to live with me and as the new girl at school, she was assigned another girl to look after her.  They both became good friends, best friends. One day we all walked past a bookshop it sparked a conversation about my nieces friends dad. I realised I knew who he was.  I had known him 5 years ago when I worked at the same place.  As chance would have it without this discovery, I would have ended up meeting him the following day anyway as my niece and his daughter were doing an activity together.  Destiny!  If this was fiction, this would definitely be a ‘cute meet’. Within no time at all he became a real love – ridiculous – consuming – inconvenient.  It seemed eighties romantic rock music played wherever we went.  We were going to move into together and be a family unit.  That idea was a short lived as storm clouds gathered around us and we did not move in together.  We instead lived separately, but stayed together despite how dark it got around us.  I was determined that if we separated it would only be because we chose it ourselves not because of other people and their agendas.  Our relationship lasted four years when we decided to end things, not to sound Avril Lavigne about it but ‘so much for my happy ending‘ I thought sadly.

On my counselling journey over the last year, I have had a lot of beliefs challenged, discovered scripts I didn’t realise I had and re-written a lot of them.  Society had given me a belief of what ‘real love’ looks like, my belief.  Mine didn’t look like that, so mine must be wrong.  I have to try harder.  Its a bit like the ‘ideal Christmas’ – what it ‘should’ look like, anything else and I have failed.  But love is supposed to conquer all, and it didn’t, how can that be?  It has taken me a while to realise love starts from within, my internal feminine and masculine embracing. Then I am not on a mission to feel complete from an external source.  My ‘cute meet’ is undoubtedly one of my soul mates, my mirror – and I have tried my best to deal with all that he has reflected to me, particularly my mistrust in men.  I acknowledged the script from the inner child who believed she wasn’t lovable enough for her father to stay, so why would any other man.  And contrary another belief, a soul mate does not necessarily mean for life, it could just be for a season or a reason but it doesn’t mean they are any less important to your evolution. It has been a wonderful but crazy journey with him and one I now wouldn’t change.  I can accept it for what it was and let go of my expectations.  Love has many amazing and different forms.  It is not limited to a set of beliefs and ideals.  It can guide us all sorts of different ways through life.  Love doesn’t always involve staying together, it can mean letting each other go, but with love and light.  Maybe that’s what is meant by unconditional love.  In changing my perception and understanding of love, it now feels that I can keep hold of one of my beliefs that love conquers all, but I can let go of the Hollywood adaptation of it.

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it” – Rumi

Aesop’s Fable: Wind and Sun

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A long, long time ago a teacher once read out a short story in our school assembly. It was a fable written by Aesop in the 6th century (B.C.) and it went something like this:

The Wind and the Sun were disputing which was the stronger. Suddenly they saw a traveller coming down the road, and the Sun said: “I see a way to decide our dispute. Whichever of us can cause that traveller to take off his cloak shall be regarded as the stronger You begin.” So the Sun retired behind a cloud, and the Wind began to blow as hard as it could upon the traveller. But the harder he blew the more closely did the traveller wrap his cloak round him, till at last the Wind had to give up in despair. Then the Sun came out and shone in all his glory upon the traveller, who soon found it too hot to walk with his cloak on and took it off.

Differing morals of the story include:

“More by gentleness than strength”

“Persuasion is better than force”

“True strength is not bluster”

“In every passion moderation choose”

“Gentleness and friendliness are always stronger than fury and force”

The fable came to mind whilst I was thinking about light and dark energy, of how we can engage with either energy to make something we want happen and what the difference is between the two.  One of my father’s favourite words ‘Machiavellian’ also came to mind, ‘the ends justify the means’.  As I have already pondered in my blog ‘the dance between light and dark‘ we all have different perspectives on what is dark and light, something else to take into account in our interactions with others.  Sometimes we may feel that we are totally doing something for the right reasons so therefore, of course, we think we are engaged with light energy, but are we actually engaged with dark energy? We may believe it doesn’t matter if we engage with dark energy as long as we get our desired outcome which is a ‘good’ one?

Life can often present lessons to us like this, be it animal welfare, human rights, safeguarding – we are all passionate about something, which is great, but this can also be our Achilles heal. How far are we willing to go to get what we want? To get others to believe what we believe? Are we willing to engage with the dark to achieve it? Do the ends justify the means?

When we engage with dark energy it causes a reaction around us which is negative – similar to the cold wind blowing in the fable. This consequently works against the very thing that we were trying to achieve – the ‘good’ thing, the thing we are passionate about. We may find our dark energy triggers a dark response in others – so people hold their cloaks around themselves even tighter than before.  As dark energy manifests it is powerful, and it attracts other negativity our way – a dark cold day.

In contrast, if we are engaged with light energy the reactions around us are more positive – the sun shone out in all its glory. People are more likely to engage with us, if things need to change people are open to listening and want to help; they are more likely to engage with their light energy – they remove their cloaks.  Try not to be disheartened if we engage with light and are met with dark, continue to shine.  As light energy manifests it is also very powerful, and it attracts other positivity our way – a bright warm day.

If we are someone who prefers ‘a bright warm day’ sometimes it can be hard to recognise or admit when we are engaged with dark energy. Dark energy can easily sneak in through a door of insecurity inside us we didn’t realise was open. See it as an opportunity to know ourselves better, and to start closing some doors as we re-write childhood scripts based on conditional love.  It can help to spend a moment to see if we are drawing in energy externally and manifesting something negative, or if we are drawing on energy from an internal source and healing or inspiring others to shine bright.

So to me, the moral of the story seems to be about the power struggle of light and dark energy within ourselves and how our struggle impacts on our outside world.

“Being made of stardust, you are very much like a star. You shine with light, give warmth, and burn with your inner fire. You don’t need outside energy, you are energy” – Unknown

 

Messages of Hope

Equine Therapy Key4Life Portland Juniper Natural Therapies Paintedhorse EFL LEAP

I was invited to join a team of EFL/P practitioners and equine specialists this month to deliver the Equine Therapy part of charity Key4Life‘s pre-release programme for young offenders at HMP/YOI Portland. Livvy Adams from Paintedhorse headed the Equine Team and organised a 2 day programme suitable for the young men at the prison and we headed in with 4 amazing horses from Portland.  Amazing because they never failed to get their messages across to the young men, whether they acted out behaviourally to mirror the energies presented or gently stood close to the men, some of whom had not seen a horse up close and personal and calmed their anxiety levels.

Equine behaviour can of course be explained based on what we know, having a degree in Animal Science, the behaviour unit was fascinating and hooked me into the world of animal behaviour and welfare.  In recent years, I have had this knowledge challenged by something far more connected, on a deeper level altogether, and its this new knowledge that always leaves me a little open mouthed and shaking my head in slight disbelief as I realise how our animal kingdom has remained connected whilst we humans have isolated and disconnected ourselves. Horses tap into the very energy we carry with us, they let us know what it is if we don’t know; they respond to us with immediacy, they are incredible Gestalt therapists and can detect incongruence a mile off.

Some of the heart felt comments made by these young men have sat with the equine team and brought tears to eyes when recalling them. You see it can be easy for us horsey people to forget what it is to experience a horse for the first time, that we receive unconditional positive regard from one of our long standing animal allies on a daily basis. We know already that horses don’t care about what has been done in the past, they only respond to who has turned up today.  Imagine experiencing that for the first time?

After the programme the young men wrote messages about hopes for the future on ribbons which were tied into the manes of the horse that connected to them the most. The horses then carried them out of prison and they are now hung in a special tree in the orchard at Glastonbury.

“No tree it is said can grow to heaven, unless its roots reach down to hell” – C.G. Jung

Walking Down the Line

Juniper Natural Therapies Counselling

The last day of the year tends to always find me reflective and perhaps a bit melancholy – this year is certainly no different.  To me this picture captures it all without words. It was taken by a friend who I met a couple of years ago at work, she returned home to New Zealand after life changed unexpectedly and dramatically.  Luckily for me she came back to England this year, on New Years Day, and ended up staying most of this year in one way or another with me. As a result she was there to witness my life change dramatically and gave me the support network I realised I never had. Consequently that knowledge created more change, that was perhaps inevitable but painful nonetheless.

The last time my life changed as dramatically was when I found out my marriage was over. Immediately I lost my husband, my best friend, and instead he became someone I never knew. Within a month our house had sold, my notice was in at work and I left the area for the south west in my little old car with what could fit in it and the rest didn’t matter anymore. Although I was supported by random acts of kinds all around, I felt alone. I listened to and over identified with Greenday’s Boulevard of Broken Dreams.  I promised myself nothing would ever floor me like that in life again. I was going to study a degree and see what happened, a beautiful beginning from a sad sad ending.  This year I was presented with the end of my fostering placement. Similarly to my marriage ending, it was not my choice so it was hard to accept as giving up on someone I love was not something I did. I was 37 when I fostered my sister’s daughter and am now nearly 42, I know it cost me my last chance of having a child of my own. But even now, knowing how it played out, I would do it all again. I have been deeply hurt by events this year and felt the sting of betrayal by people who supported them, some of whom I let into my life properly without any caution. All part of life I guess.

That moment caught unaware of me walking Jac back to his field was the last day I had with my friend before New Zealand called her home. It was also one of the last days before I moved Jac to a new home out of the area, away from our past as it now was. Like me, he was mostly on his own when he went home and was no doubt hurting. Unlike me, he was able to shake off our past as soon as he entered his new home by rolling and shaking his body a couple of times. It is taking me a bit longer to shake it off and as daft as the rolling around on the floor sounds, its actually one way of moving blocked emotions in the body. Wherever my body is feeling tension or pain, that’s where I put movement and it seems to release the blocked energy. I did keep my promise to myself that nothing would ever floor me like my marriage ending. People come and people go, even family. And I guess once you have let possessions go, its easier to do it again as the attachment just isn’t there. So here I am with some belongings on borrowed time in someone else’s living space, attempting to finish my counselling training and earn enough to live on around that. It is not as secure as I found university, with friendly student accommodation, a student loan and a three year plan. But I feel a lot stronger in myself this time around, even though I am perhaps more vulnerable security wise. I am once again surrounded by random acts of kindness which always give me faith and hope. Again, all part of life.

I have appreciated all the beginnings gifted to me alongside the endings. Opportunities that fill me with excitement. And those harder lessons in life made me stronger, less afraid and gave me the motivation to chase my dreams.  I am grateful for those people that have reached out to me this year with kindness, love and light freely given. All those that sent Christmas cards or gifts and invited me to come stay with them or pop in for a mince pie – I thank you once again but hope you understand I really just wanted to keep this Christmas low key, and spent it with Jac and his new herd.

“Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me
Till then I walk alone” – Green Day

Thanks also to Jac who did find me and now walks beside me making the road less lonely.

The Dance between Dark and Light

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Art by Jonah Shafer

This is probably the oldest story we know, told and retold in some of our favourite stories of all time, stories that have become classics. Classics because they are timeless, and timeless because they are still relevant. The story of dark and light seems to strike a chord within us perhaps because we realise its not a story, but an ancient wisdom.  It is not quite as straight forward as some tales tell, we are neither dark or light but we are both. On any given day, the percentage of time we spend between the two depends on us as individuals, and what is going on for us internally and externally, or at least how we perceive it to be. Our perceptions of what is ‘dark’ and ‘light’ may also differ between us as we are guided by our own cognitive experiences; values from our upbringing, ancestors, culture and society; ethics, morals, and inner compass which includes our consciousness and sub-consciousness and our higher self. However, if we are all connected at a level beyond ourselves, it is probable that there is a common thread of what is ‘dark’ and what is ‘light’.

“For what you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are” – C.S. Lewis, The Magicians Nephew.

If we look at our relationship with self and others in terms of ‘dark’ and ‘light’ energy, things can start to become clearer, far more simple and hopefully far less personal. It may surprise us when we listen to our own voices in our heads (if we can all admit we all talk to ourselves) that some, if not the majority of those messages, are quite dark (unless of course you have great self awareness, received ideal conditions in childhood which helped you to reach your full potential – in a self actualised way). Merging Light and Dark energy with Transactional Analysis (TA) we have our ‘parent’, ‘adult’ and ‘child’ ego states within us and they all have a certain amount of talk time, and they seem to have a connection with either dark or light energy. The ‘critical/controlling parent’ for example, can berate us, humiliate us, embarrass us, control us, limit us; therefore engaging with dark energy. We could have a critical parent that engages with light energy thereby coming from a place of caring when it barks ‘don’t stick your fingers in that socket!’. I may have won a few Darwin awards in my time without that critical parent. My dark energy parent puts me down and disempowers me. If separate to me we would not be friends. Despite counselling training and absorbing Louise Hays work, if I happen to do something ‘stupid’, that voice is quick to highlight how stupid. I am now able to catch it however, and change what I am saying to myself. Dark energy could also be present in our unhealthier side to ‘nurturing parent’, (sometimes known as the ‘smother mother’), and with the child ego states – the rebellious ‘free child’ who may be a wayward teenager, or the ‘adapted child’ who may have learnt to be quite manipulative with adults. If you are spending time with your extended family this holiday season it may be interesting to observe yourself and see if you revert into any of these ego states. You may also observe others doing the same as they interact with you. It may be of use to note the energy of dark and light within you and within others.

“To defeat the darkness out there, you must defeat the darkness in yourself” – C.S. Lewis, Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

These darker characters within us seem to be triggered when certain situations or people present themselves in our lives. Often they push older buttons in us – though we may now be in a different time, circumstance or surrounded by different people. It seems the same life lesson is presented because we haven’t learnt what we needed from it. So maybe the bigger lesson is about not engaging with the dark energy, unhooking from the trigger and staying with light energy.  If we stay with light energy, we are more likely to be in our adult ego state, although we could also be in the healthy side to parent or child ego e.g. nurturing/caring for self and others, and enjoying life with our pure childlike and innate emotion of joy.  If we stay with light energy, we can often align ourselves to our souls purpose for being here, awaken our passions and our unique gifts and talents (that are not ego derived) that are intended to radiate love and light out to the rest of the world. When we dance back to the dark side, and we will because we are both, we can feel blocked, dissatisfied, or perhaps not worthy enough to shine. We can become jealous of others that do shine, and we can become involved in gossiping about them, sending out our darkness in the world instead. Darkness creates misunderstanding, hurt, separation, isolation, chaos, anarchy, wars – it engages with our innate emotions of fear, sadness and anger.

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering” – Yoda, The Phantom Menace.

When looking at our interactions with others, a useful piece of theory to take on board is the ‘drama triangle‘ again from TA. The positions we can play are: Victim, Persecutor and Rescuer – all engage with our dark energy. With more self awareness we can change our interactions with people to play positions on the ‘winners triangle‘  – Vulnerable, Assertive, Caring – engaging instead with our light energy.  It can be hard sometimes to switch from the drama to the winners triangle especially when those around you are still acting within the drama and keep pulling you in. Again, if we step back and observe it all as energy, it is not really people hooking us in, but their dark energy is, and it creates more drama combined with your dark energy. If we can stay with our light energy, we can stop playing the drama roles that we may have played for quite some time.  I have been playing in the drama triangle, and I have played the rescuer role mostly. When I was younger I made assumptions that the victim needs my help so I would rescue. In truth the victim played this role because it served them with a purpose, and that purpose was none of my business and they had not requested my help. The victim would switch roles to persecutor and attack me for my inept rescue and I would become the real victim, often to feel devalued and hurt. I did attract victims who requested help, and again I would respond. I thought they would then be able to help themselves next time, but they never did. I realised I was in the drama once again. Protecting a victim from perceived persecutors was my more recent role on the drama triangle, and so many persecutors joined the game. I became exhausted fighting a never ending battle with institutions and systems that ‘attacked my victim’. I was so angry. Sad. Fearful. My lesson being, that I can not protect ‘my victim’, they are not ‘mine’ nor are they my responsibility. I observed that whilst I was in ‘low spirits’, I was consumed with my dark energy, in the drama, and therefore not putting my light into the world instead.

“We have all got light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are” – Sirius Black, The Order of the Phoenix.

‘There are two kinds of people in life’ someone once said to me, ‘those that wish to help others, and those that wish to make a profit’.   In energy terms – those that engage mainly with their dark energy could appear greedy, materialistic, make decisions based on profit not welfare, involved with self interest maybe to the known detriment to others. Those that engage mainly with their light can be observed genuinely caring about others, choosing roles in life that are not necessarily well paid, but chosen to make a positive contribution in the world, regardless of recognition. You may have heard the phrase ‘unsung hero’, I apply it here.  I have observed people engaged in their dark energy that can become threatened by competition, perceived or otherwise, even if it would not have any financial impact. I have observed people engaged with light energy shine brightly in the work they do, and sadly they then become targets of dark energy, as some of my friends are right now. If you are going through something like this, remember to look at it as energy, so you do not take it personally and get drawn in. If their dark energy hooks into yours, you may spend a great deal of time worried, defending yourself or ‘fighting back’ and whilst you are engaged in your dark energy creating drama, you are not with your light giving your gift to the world. You could take it as a compliment that dark energy is so threatened by how much your light shines that it continues to push against any of your darker doors to stop you in your tracks. The more illogical the attack, the more ludicrous and nonsensical…the greater the compliment. Figure out your triggers, most will be from childhood things connected to conditional love (not unconditional). Once you acknowledge and deal with your triggers, the doors that let dark energy in are sealed and lessons completed. Dark will (of course) look for another door, but that is part of the dance.  How you move across the floor is up to you.

“There is a light in this world, a healing spirit more powerful than any darkness we may encounter. We sometimes lose sight of this force when there is suffering, too much pain. Then suddenly, the spirit will emerge through the lives of ordinary people who hear a call and answer in extraordinary ways” – Mother Teresa

 

Acknowledgement: I would like to thank Janet Williams (MBACP) for her enlightenment and inspiration, and also for putting up with me for my 40 hours of personal counselling. 

LEAP of Faith

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Graduation Ride at LEAP Gloucestershire

The definition of faith is complete trust or confidence in someone or something. Trust is a firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something. Confidence is the feeling or belief that one can have faith in or rely on someone or something.

FAITH. TRUST. CONFIDENCE.

I have heard that 2016 is numerically a ‘9’ year (2+0+1+6) meaning its a year of completion or an end of cycles. The idea is the ditch anything this year you don’t want to carry with you for the next 8 years. Through my training to be a counsellor I have become more aware of issues I have with both trusting people and in setting healthy boundaries. So in the little time I have left of this year can I do something that rectifies that?

It is said that knowing where an issue lies, the root cause of it, is a massive step towards healing the issue itself. I was given David Howe’s book ‘Attachment Across the Lifecourse’ to help me understand someone else’s attachment style, whilst researching I discovered my own style was ‘disorganised’. Which meant my default status was feeling ‘unloved, alone and frightened’ and felt that other people are ‘frightening, rejecting and unavailable’.  It is possible for anyone with ‘disorganised’, ‘avoidant’ or ‘ambivalent’ attachment style to move toward ‘secure’ attachment as they go through their adult lives. It may take some inner child work it whatever form that suits you best. I have tried personal counselling, guided meditations and shamanic healing work to allow my inner child to grow up safely and trust that me, as the adult, has her safe.

I have been aware since my teenage years that I have not been able to set healthy boundaries with some people. They walked all over me, deeply insulted me and made me feel exhausted as they took and never gave. I was often angry at myself for not speaking up or standing my ground. This life lesson continued to play out, different people appeared but same thing was being displayed. I happened to watch a seminar with Heidi Sawyer on ‘How to handle a narcissist’ and discovered my ‘life code’ which gave me more self awareness and awareness of others. I suddenly understood why I wasn’t able to set healthy boundaries with some people and what to do about it. This together with Transactional Analysis ‘ego states‘ awareness and shamanic work/guided meditation on ‘tie-cutting’ myself from people has begun to help address this issue. It is also addressing the trust issue.

My kinship fostering placement has abruptly come to an end this month and things became bleak financially with a weeks notice. I was faced with two straight forward options. 1) go back to the last career I had and be able to afford to stay in your home or 2) leave your home and follow your dream to work with horses. I had an interview to return to my last career, it would have been safe…but not necessarily healthy. I had already left that career due to health reasons 6 years ago. My logic reasoned that my circumstances are different now, I could be OK now, able to set healthy boundaries (?) and then I could keep my home. My heart, my body and my intuition told me to follow my dreams and have faith that it will work out.  The second option means trusting in someone else, rather than being self reliant with the first option. With a huge leap of faith, I put my furniture up for sale today, will let my home go and follow my dreams. Someone in need will be able to move into this lovely flat before Christmas with a little luck and it will make their day.

I am now a fully qualified Equine Facilitated Leaning Practitioner having recently completed my LEAP training. I am so grateful that I was in the right place at the right time and the right people around me helped get me there this year. I am also grateful despite the emotional impact of big changes in my personal life, I was able to focus and complete the next step to achieving my dream. I plan to continue my counselling training over the next 2 years to qualify for private practice, then offer Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy too. I am currently looking for a place to run my business from in Dorset, and am already lucky enough to have the nicest, wisest little horse with me. He will need a herd to run with as horses in this line of work are best kept as naturally as possible which helps them connect with each other, and consequently with human clients.  In parallel, am also lucky enough to live close enough to fellow LEAP practitioners in Sherborne and Glastonbury and circumstances may well take me closer to them. I have faith, trust and confidence that whatever happens, following my dreams is the right option to take and its the one that allows me to put the most positivity into the world.

“Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure” – Paulo Coelho

Evolution

Juniper Natural Therapies Phoenix

When the phoenix shows up it indicates a new beginning, a fresh start, the ability to create a future different from the past. The phoenix showed up at the start of the year for me and with it came the message that a part of me has to die in order for it to be reborn. I didn’t have to wait long before I discovered what part that was. I was going through a bit of an intense time emotionally, something felt wrong with my lungs and eventually I woke in the dead of night with pain every time I breathed. I recognised the symptoms as a panic attack and managed to calm myself down by counting my breaths. If the body never lies and we listen to what that part has to say, we can help ourselves. It is amazing how and why we override this information with our busy minds and our busy lives at the detriment of our bodies.

My lungs indicated sadness, disappointment, hurt, rejection and despair. Having worked hard to release my suppressed anger this year, underneath that protection layer was sadness and disappointment. I felt a crushing feeling on my lungs, like I was under rocks. More and more rocks were being placed on me and it got heavier and heavier. What did the rocks represent? Other peoples responsibility. Why did I take it on? A script learnt from childhood perhaps? With a strong link of not being left alone? If I looked after ‘this’, that would stop ‘that’ happening and I would still have a family. In trying to keep a ‘family’ around me I have taken on a lot of responsibility. What would happen if I gave the responsibility back to its rightful owner?  I imagined a rope which pulled me up and out of the responsibility rock pile until I was above it looking around at the panoramic view breathing freely. I then knew what I had to do, and consequently what I would have to face. You see under my sadness was fear, fear of being alone.

There was a shift in me as I stopped taking other people’s responsibility. My mantra ‘I am responsible for myself, not responsible for others’. They were responsible for themselves. It did leave me with conflict with my niece I was looking after as my foster child, I was responsible for her. On a soul level however, she is responsible for herself, I am only there to guide her for as long as needed. Anyone who has brought up teenagers probably knows, there is a shift in them at some stage that pushes away the parental guidance as they know their rights, and you just have to hope you have guided enough that they can take responsibility for themselves.

Fundamentally, as hard as it may be to accept, it is their journey, not yours. Just as your journey is your own and not anyone else’s. Journeys are how we can evolve spiritually and hopefully by the end of our lifetimes we achieve all the growth we set out to achieve when signing up for the deal down here. As part of that deal, we ticked boxes for experiences, some that test our resilience and adaptability to change greatly. We are all evolving at different rates, sometimes our paths line up with others and run together for a time, and other times we walk alone. I was trying to keep a ‘family’ around me for fear of walking alone. I think its more the fear of something, rather than the reality of it that makes us clutch to the chains that bind us (see Mary I do listen to you quoting the bible at me). To those worrying about me right now, try not to. Empathise with me instead, then you get to see the world from my perspective. Its empowering for someone to get that understanding from another. If you sympathise or pity, it is more likely you are dealing with your own fear projections about what you would do or how you would feel in my shoes. Dealing with that can be quite exhausting for a person who takes other peoples responsibilities on. Thankfully I don’t do that anymore. Being ‘alone’ allows more energy to go on self development and figuring out where and what next. I can see in time there will be other peoples paths lining up with mine as we all continue to evolve on this journey called life. Right now I am happy walking alone.

“True initiation is a response to an inner calling; it requires that you face personal challenges heroically and experience a genuine rebirth into a new way of being” – Alberto Villoldo