Step into Stillness

Stillness has inspired me to re connect and share a few thoughts. It’s been quite a while since I wrote anything for Safe Spaces or for the Cool Mindz blog. This message is for readers who follow my journey through cancer and my work as a transformational coach. Thanks for supporting me.

Life is full. Most days I move from one task to another and by the time the day is over, I feel that I haven’t accomplished what I had intended, even though a lot of progress is made. I’ve said before, when you go through an illness of any kind you just want to “squeeze the juice out of life” and make the most of it. Those aren’t my words, they are borrowed from a friend. 🙂

My last blog for Safe Spaces ended with a desire to share what I was experiencing physically, as my body started to release a lot of what its been carrying around. The term for it is Myofascial release, which I’ve experienced a little of in treatments with my Osteopath/Craniosacral Therapist, but this release happened over a few days without him being present. It was a magical few days, not to be forgotten.

I’ve begun my book called, Flow, which includes a few personal stories about my life, but finding time to fit that in is proving difficult. I’m not sure how the book will evolve or if it will ever be for public consumption. I’m hoping for a lovely trip into the countryside, where I can shut myself off and just write. I’m putting that wish out into the Universe. A place with lots of big, beautiful trees to hug!! Watch this space …

So many thoughts running through my head, and which ones to share..

I’m healing very slowly still, but I feel like the worst is over. This injury has taught me a lot. I’m always thankful for new lessons and also enjoy seeing the repetitions that take place, where you realise you still need to work at something. It’s ongoing work.

I’ve embraced social media now, and am really so lucky to have such a special community of family and friends, who follow Cool Mindz and show support for the work I’m doing with Mikayla. She is an inspiration to me and I’m sure to other children out there. So our work continues. Having more of a presence online has brought in one or two lovely opportunities which I also couldn’t be more grateful for.

As with everything, I’ll find my comfortable place with social media and will bring back the balance that I feel I’ve lost a little of. It has a way of stealing a lot of your time, and I don’t even get to look at other posts or spend time liking them. I plan on finding more time to support the people who show support for me. There are some incredibly special people out there doing a lot for their communities and making a big difference in this world. I’m in awe of them.

So with all of that said… here is what I’d like to share.

This coming week, find time for stillness. At a time where there is so much uncertainty and restlessness, we need to find more peace. I felt a little overwhelmed this week, with being on line so much. I’m on my phone more than I would like to be, it’s what’s needed for Cool Mindz, but I knew I had a long Christmas meditation to look forward to scheduled for Saturday, so I pushed through Friday.

Saturday arrived and all I had to commit to was the long meditation. I never thought I would be able to sit for so long in stillness yesterday, but I was able to sit for the scheduled 8 hours. There were small breaks here and there, but when I was meditating I’d never been so still. That’s not to say you can’t go deeply into a meditation in 10 – 15 minutes, but I think the longer the better.

It has brought me such peace, calm and serenity. I’m always humbled by this path of meditation and contemplation. The opportunity it gives you to connect deeply with yourself and with God, to quietly pray and connect to your breath, to release and say thank you. I’m often overwhelmed with gratitude and appreciation for this life.

I went for a long walk in the park this morning, while the sun was out. The energy was extremely friendly as I passed families walking their dogs. A gentle, cold breeze on my face, puddles on the ground from the rain and beautiful trees to keep me company. A great start to the day and I’m still feeling the peace from yesterday.

While on my walk, I thought of this prayer that was introduced to me many years ago, by my good friend Gordon, who is no longer with us. Mikayla knows it already, as it’s one of the tools I’ve included into Cool Mindz. I hope you find it comforting at this time.

Humility Prayer   -Canon T. T. Carter    

“Humility is perpetual quietness of heart
It is to have no trouble
It is never to be fretted, or vexed, or irritated, or sore, or disappointed

It is to expect nothing, to wonder at nothing that is done to me, to feel nothing done against me
It is to be at rest when nobody praises me, and when I am blamed and despised

It is to have a blessed home in myself, where I can go in and shut the door, and kneel to my Father in secret, and be at peace as in a deep sea of calmness, when all around and above me is troubled”

Find your moment in the coming days, weeks or months to step into stillness. Step into stillness often, even if you only have 10 minutes. Make the effort to step away from the noise, step away from the expectations, step away from social media, step into a space where you can connect with yourself and God and find peace.

Thank you for reading! Take care and have a special Christmas! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everything for a Reason

Our next session was due after a week of processing. I never know how far I can push the limitations with this injury, but I believe in carrying on so my body can still feel a sense of normality. I can’t stop altogether. I have things to tick off my list every day.

Even though I felt a massive shift in energy and I was feeling so much clearer in my thinking, I still had aches and pains and no movement beyond shoulder height. We had agreed that I shouldn’t push my arm to go where it wasn’t happy. No more pushing. No more expectation. Keep things simple and work with your body, was the mantra 🙂

The week was intense with a lot of research and preparation for Cool Mindz. I was becoming a lot more active on social media to help create more awareness of my work as a transformation coach. I turned 48 so took myself off to my favourite place in London for some time out. It was generally a really busy week with lots of long chats on the phone with loved ones. Besides the one full day out, I was mostly at home, in front of my laptop. I still had my walks in the park. I could feel that my body was a little lighter, despite the pain and lack of mobility.

The time I struggle the most is when I’m trying to settle into a good position to sleep. It’s very difficult. I’ve lost a lot of sleep over this period of time. There’s very little that can be done. I’ve had some lovely 3am quiet times, reading or meditating. The time is never wasted, but obviously I’d prefer to be sleeping like everyone else.

My next appointment to see Ashley arrived. I love travelling to his side of London. I always make a special trip to a tiny coffee house that’s run by a lovely Turkish guy. The coffee is so delicious!!! He’s clearly a musical theatre fan, as I often walk in and catch him singing along to Hamilton, while he’s brewing coffee. Love it!! 🙂

I wondered how we could top last week’s session. We broke down the week I’d had and he checked one or two things before we got back into working. We usually start with my hip first. There was a bit of mobilising involved and some rather uncomfortable positions involving a fair amount of pain, but I just continue to breathe through it.

I once had my calf striped in a session with a Chiropractor during a run of CATS back in 2009. This was the plan to get me back on stage as quickly as possible. I needed my hand held to get through that experience. I’m sure whoever was in the reception area waiting their turn wanted to run out of the door screaming, in case the Chiro had something similar in mind for them. I’ll never forget that treatment or that pain.

Anyway, I digress. We moved to the shoulder next. Ashley always discovers something new and we discuss it. Everything is worth considering in my opinion. A lot of changes have taken place in that whole area of my body. There are emotional layers, needing to be unlocked. Muscles and tissues put into stress, an entire space that has been emptied out of breast tissue, and then an intrusive reconstruction of that area to accommodate a foreign object that is now my right breast. The whole chest area needs help.

In the session, Ashley does his part and I do mine. I visualise, breathe and will for this release to take place in my shoulder. Again, my right shoulder melts into my left as I lie on my left side. The pain increases a little as my arm stretches over my chest and hangs over the edge, more shifting, more deep breathing and letting go. I am willing for healing to take place with every cell of my body. We both are. The session ends with another check in.

I got up feeling quite dizzy and light headed, a little emotional even. We agree to meet again for another treatment and I get back onto the tube for the journey home. I felt spacey and tired. I’m not usually capable of much after a treatment. It really feels like someone has pushed the reset button, more in my brain than in my body sometimes.  My brain feels like it’s coming into more clarity. My body feels like it needs an overhaul. Like I need to be dropped from a height, cracked open and put back together again 🙂

It’s an early night for me and I manage to sleep…a little. I’m restless. I have strange sensations pulsing at the back of my head, throbbing in my arm and just a general feeling of being slightly disorientated and really quite exhausted. I drink as much water as possible. I often come out of my sessions needing to hydrate more than usual.

I wake up the next morning, having slept through all three alarms. My meditation hour has passed and all I can think of is my cup of coffee. I haul my body out of bed, reach for something to cover my feet, as it’s getting a little chilly these days and I head down the stairs in search of a hot cup of coffee.

I’m in the loft part of the house. I call it “the room at the top of the stairs” and there are two flights to get down. I get to the top of the bottom staircase, closer and closer to the kettle. My mind is on the prize, but my feet betray me, or to be more specific, the soft slippers I have on my feet do. Is this why they’re called slippers I wonder?

In a split second both feet are up in the air and I’ve begun the “not so gentle” slide down the staircase, one thud after another as I make my way to the bottom. I must have instinctively reached for the banister with my right arm (the injured one) to stop the fall, but sadly it was too late. My arm got caught in between each rail of the banister, (there must have been 6/7 at least) and with each slide down, my arm was knocked back again and again until I reached the wooden floor below.

I grabbed my arm. The pain was excruciating. I was shuddering and rocking myself, like a mother rocks her child, trying to breathe through this overwhelming pain. I’d landed with such a thud and had cried out, in my shocked state, all the way down the staircase. Jono was rudely woken out of his sleep. He ran down after me and crouched down behind me gently rubbing my back. Jen had terminated her call to her mother in Australia to also come to my aid. How lucky I am to have such care. They were so comforting, but honestly, this poor family has endured so much drama with me already.

The pain was on a level I hadn’t experienced in a very long time. I sat there rocking, arm throbbing, body shaken, wishing I’d never laid eyes on those slippers. I kicked them off my feet. They’d be thrown into the bin as soon as I could console myself with this pain. I thought of how my friend Sam had tripped over something a few weeks after her brain surgery. She was devastated.  It’s so vital when you’re recovering from something to not have any setbacks. I’d only had my session with Ashley yesterday and here I was at the bottom of the stairs writhing in pain. I wondered if everything we had been working towards over the last couple of weeks was now lost.

And then another thought popped into my head, which I voiced out loud. I wonder if this has actually done something to help the situation, in some strange way. Extremely odd for me to say at a time like this, but it’s always been my belief that everything happens for a reason. Call it what you will, but my intuition often speaks out loud and I listen.

Barefoot, I slowly retraced my steps back up to my room, feeling slightly anxious about what this could have done to my already unfortunate situation. I sent a text to Ashley asking what he would advise me to do. Anti inflammatories, pain-killers and icing my arm were recommended, just as Jen had advised me to do when I was downstairs. And keep still and rest. I checked in with my friend Sam who is always so gently consoling and she gave me wonderful advice too.

I went back down the stairs. Jen congratulated me for making it down in one piece and I remarked at how polished the stairs were looking. She made me my cup of coffee and I sat on the couch with an ice pack. Things were calmer now and hopefully the pain killers would kick in soon.

I decided to also check in with my homeopath. She’d sent me a really strong Arnica remedy in the post to help with shock and trauma, supporting the work Ashley and I were already doing. She recommended I start taking the remedy straight away and said I may come out in bruises. I assured her that I wouldn’t be relying on the remedy to break out in bruises 🙂

And just as I finished writing this blog an email appears in my inbox from Marks & Spencer. Taryn, your perfect bra awaits. I open the email to have a look. Your perfect bra- whatever your shape, size and style, we’ve got you covered! I look closely at the image of a woman with breasts rather like my left breast – lovely, soft and full. I look over to my very perky, tight right breast and then say out loud…”Not covering this one baby shoes…not with all of that underwire!!!!”

Thanks for reading 🙂

The next part of this journey is going to be quite a challenge for me to share. I’ve never experienced something like what I’m currently witnessing with my body. I’m in awe! When I am able to find the right moment and the right platform, I will begin documenting it, but until then, I am healing in the most magical of ways and l look forward to the time when I am able to share this with you.

Take care, stay safe and believe that we are more than our bodies!

 

 

 

 

 

There is Pain in Resistance

I was on such a high after that first session in the pool, that I immediately booked myself another two sessions for the following morning and evening. Again the pool was empty, so I could move uninterruptedly through the water, at my own pace and see what came. I spent about half the time at the side doing an underwater ballet barre. My hip was a little niggly, but nothing that was too worrying. My arm was aching, but I detected a little more range of movement, so clearly, something was working.  I did the same flowing arm movements as before and found a few new variations, as I moved through the water. I kept at it. I didn’t hold back, despite the discomfort and pain.

When I went back in the evening on the same day for another hour long session, I began wondering whether I was perhaps being a little too ambitious. My goal was to get my arm to move beyond shoulder height. I sometimes used my other arm to lift it and push it up as I moved from one side of the pool to the other. The pain felt substantial. My arm resisted stubbornly.  I started to question whether this was the right approach. It’s in my nature to push a little too much. I’d had some difficult and persistent injuries when I was performing in CATS many years ago. I hadn’t always treaded lightly with myself and would often jump back into the show before my body had completely healed from whatever injury was present at that time. Was this the same pattern?

I decided to end my session in the pool early and walked home in a slightly more contemplative mood.  This was really frustrating. That night my sleep was hard to come by. No matter how carefully I positioned my arm and leg, nothing worked. I knew I’d overdone it. My hospital appointments with the Breast Surgeon and Plastic Surgeon were the following day. My inflation into the implant, as I’ve described in my previous blog wasn’t easy, but my consultation with the Breast Surgeon was at least positive. The results of the mammogram of the ‘healthy breast’ came back clear. The gel implant in that breast seemed happy, I was grateful.

The next few days leading up to my Osteopath appointment weren’t fun. My walks were strained. I’d come back and my hip would complain when I took myself up the three flights of stairs to my room. I felt like I had to move so cautiously in case my injuries got worse. This just wasn’t how I was used to doing things. After I’d googled images of women who’d had mastectomy’s with no recon, I sat with that idea to see whether I was overreacting about wanting my breasts taken off. Would I really consider doing something that drastic? The Plastic Surgeon has a plan to achieve symmetry and here I was thinking of throwing all of that away. I’d been told it would take a few surgeries to get there. I’d signed up for it almost two years ago. I needed to be patient!

Those thoughts slowly began to lessen. I massaged tissue oil into my skin every day and the pulling sensation eased up a little. I’d see it through, I thought. I’ve managed with everything else, I can go the distance. The worst is over, now it’s just cosmetic. I’m getting help to deal with the shock and trauma and whatever else my Osteopath thinks my body is trying to tell me. I’ll persevere and be patient. It’s all going to be fine 🙂

We continued to work with the hip and the shoulder/arm in the same kind of way with each session, but I’d expressed an interest in changing things up a little. I was used to being challenged as a dancer so whatever needed clicking and mobilising, I was up for it. We still continued very gently. There was definitely some realigning and shifting taking place, I could feel it, and it was very visible to him that there was a change for the better.

Now, I’m not the right person to launch into an explanation about how Osteopathy or Cranio works. All I can say is that it’s making a difference in a way that is nothing short of miraculous. Because I believe in it so much, it’s working. Believing helps! The healing is non intrusive, extremely gentle and really supports my holistic approach to health. I’ve always liked to combine many things, but this healing modality is where I believe the true potential lies to actually overcome things from many angles.

It’s easy to swallow a tablet when we feel pain, but will that medication fix all the underlying reasons as to why we are ill or injured in the first place. No. It’s really up to us to decide what we think our body needs and to steer ourselves in the direction we feel is right for us. Opening up to our intuition in order to facilitate this approach is vital. I will always lean heavily towards energy medicine/healing. I promote taking the natural approach, because I’m curious about investigating the mental/emotional side of healing and understanding the miraculous nature of my body. What is my body actually trying to communicate to me and how can I support it best?

In the last couple of sessions, I’ve begun talking mentally to my body while Ashley (Osteopath) is working. My body talks right back. When the correct posture or holding position is achieved, it releases. I can’t explain it fully because I’m not trained to provide you with those details. It’s really very simple when you believe in the miraculous nature of the body, and I do. I don’t need the intellectual understanding.  I’m connected very intimately to my body and I am witnessing its every move, its every expression, its every desire to “let go!”

Releasing usually takes place with a slow and steady motion of my head that is not being controlled by me or by Ashley- he is merely supporting my head. As this happens, the dialogue that enters my head is usually something like, “I understand and thank you!” In other words, I’m working with the movement. I’m not afraid of it or judging anything about what’s happening. I’m lying there in absolute awe of what my body is capable of. It’s the most natural feeling in the world – to just let your body take over and go to where it can receive healing and say thank you.

In the most recent session, we discussed the fact that I was still in so much pain and was perhaps over exerting myself with too many exercises, attempting to open up the chest area. The swimming was one thing, but I had also started doing arm exercises whenever I was taking a break from writing. There was still not much movement beyond shoulder height and I was trying to push beyond that and beyond the pain.

“There is pain in resistance,” is what he said. “The implant is controlling everything!” I agreed. I agreed totally.

Opening up the chest area is extremely uncomfortable for this implant as well as my arms. All I wanted was to have an arm that worked. The most obvious position of comfort for the implant is when I lean in to it, when I’m in my natural restful state, when my shoulder can relax comfortably. I was doing the opposite. He suggested that we reverse the entire process of working so we can allow my body to go where it needs to go in order to release. I needed to avoid “trying” to do anything and just lean in towards the implant, accepting it as a part of my body. Once again, I agreed with him completely.

My hip was still taking strain, so we worked there first. I lay on my right side. He found the appropriate holding position and I relaxed my leg into that. The same sensation as I’ve described to you about how my head released itself, took place with my hip. Effortlessly, it began to shift a little this way and then a little that way, a slight curving round and then a small opening out until it found the best position to release. I lay there quietly witnessing this, knowing that my body was communicating the way forward for me. Ashley was supporting this, but my body was doing all the work and I was allowing it to.

I turned over to the left side so that he could hold the same safe space for my arm to lie across my chest, so my hand dangled over the edge. This would allow the best chance for movement and release. He did the same as he had done with my hip. He found the best holding position to allow me to integrate the knowledge that now we were moving towards really letting my body accept this implant. The release was immediate. There was little hesitation. It felt like my right shoulder was melting across my body into my left shoulder, then it lifted slightly upwards and back a little and then it went back in towards the left shoulder again. This movement closed off the space in my chest. It almost felt like my implant was forced to soften so it could allow for this inward collapse to take place.

I lay there calmly, breathing. This intelligence that we were connecting to overwhelmed me with admiration. Our body carries its own innate wisdom. It knows exactly how to heal itself. We were tapping into it. It was responding.  I felt such respect and gratitude for what I was experiencing. This is how I understand things. This is the world I choose to live in. I actively let go. I actively have faith in Ashley. I actively know that this “little miracle” we are witnessing, is a part of my healing and what I’m meant to experience, so I can share it with others and hopefully inspire someone out there to believe and see a different perspective for their own healing.

I left the session feeling like I was floating in a different world. I stood next to masked strangers on the train ride home with absolute joy in my entire body. I grinned from one side of my mask to the other. Not a soul noticed. How could they when you’re behind your mask, but I knew what was taking place. I was giggling to myself like a child. No more resistance. Now we were on the right track!

Still more to follow 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Movement Makes Magic

Movement for me is more than just one aspect. The physical awareness you have as a dancer, actor or athlete is perhaps more pronounced. It’s the centre of everything in some way. If something is off kilter physically, you’re inhibited, if not totally prevented from carrying something through and expressing yourself fully in other areas of your life.

I hope I’m expressing this fully. I have a million thoughts going through my mind today after my fifth session (20 Oct) with my incredible Osteopath/Cranio. I’m processing so much after this new awareness of where we are now heading. It’s quite magical. I’m still in awe of what took place and really hope I’ll be able to describe it in the next few posts.

We’ve had an interesting journey since my first appointment at the beginning of September. I won’t get into all the details. Sometimes we only really process the things that we fully understand, in the way we are meant to understand them, so I’ll keep it as simple as possible. He always explains everything meticulously and carefully in the session. I have the utmost trust in him, that whatever is meant to be uncovered will take place at the right time. There is always a beautiful flow.

September was a very busy month for many reasons. I had follow-up appointments with my Oncologist, Breast Surgeon and the Plastic Surgeon who did the reconstruction after the mastectomy. I still have one more surgery coming up, but with COVID, it could take a while before he is able to replace this expander implant for something more natural and softer. I’m on the waiting list so we shall see what transpires.

I’ve had this implant since December 2018 and believe me, my body is ready for it to come out. As lovely as it looks, it feels like someone has placed a brick into my chest and stitched me up. The surgeon is not to blame for this, it’s just the nature of the implant and how I experience it. Of course there are emotions around having a breast removed and accepting a foreign implant into the body to rebuild the breast.

I have a very interesting medical report from the Clinical Psychologist who I saw before the mastectomy. She has to investigate whether you are psychologically able to handle the surgery and explains what to expect afterwards.  I made it clear to her and the Plastic Surgeon how important it is for me to look natural.

I have great respect for people who choose to have cosmetic surgery and have seen it change lives positively, but I’ve never wanted anything cosmetic for my body or my face. I feel very strongly about it and can only say what is true for my life. That decision has unfortunately been taken away from me with this diagnosis.

I had made peace before the surgery, but I know that I’ve struggled to accept this implant. I’ve had to let go of the ‘old me’ and accept a new version of myself. I have two very beautiful breasts (sorry if this feels awkward), but they are not alike and I need to have patience, until we can get them into the same family. For now, I have taken to calling myself Dolly Part, which my friends find rather amusing. It’s just me making light, which is quite natural for me to do. We all love Dolly 🙂

Part of the procedure before we get to the final surgery, is to stretch the skin in order to accommodate a new gel implant. The current expander implant has a port which is used to inject saline solution into. I’ve had a few skin-stretching injections since 2019. When I saw the surgeon in September, he injected 50 mls into the implant. We waited to see how it felt. I wasn’t comfortable, so he reduced it to 30 mls. My journey home was challenging and the days that followed were painful and frustrating. Even my walk in the park was reduced to one lap. I’m a four lap kinda girl so I wasn’t impressed!

I came home after my walk and immediately googled women who’d had mastectomy’s without reconstruction. Beautiful images of strong women with scars across their chests flashed before me, one after the other. I felt surprisingly tempted. There really was something exhilarating about the idea of not having breasts at all. Perhaps if I just had them both removed I thought, then I can sleep properly, do yoga and live normally. I took the advice from a friend to massage tissue oil into the skin to help it while it’s been tugged at, so I’m feeling less tempted to get rid of the brick.

My second session with the Osteopath took place on the 15th of September which was before this inflation into the implant. Of course he has my full medical history in front of him as he’s working with me.  Although I’d come to him with a very unhappy left hip and a right shoulder/arm that had very little movement and a lot of pain, he is looking beyond that and bringing everything else I’ve experienced in the past two years into the foreground. We’re uncovering things from all angles, bringing the physical, mental and emotional aspects into play.

He could literally feel the shock and trauma in my body as he began to work behind my shoulder. This was the same theme as had been discussed previously. “Your body can’t handle any more, this is now the best it can do,” was his feedback. He said, externally I have a positive, vibrant and strong energy. I’ve coped well mentally and emotionally with the surgeries and chemotherapy, but has this served my body? Where is my body in all of this? It’s possible that it has needed to be recognised as wounded.

Energetically he picked up no movement in my diaphragm on the right (the side of my mastectomy) and my ribcage presented as a solid ball. I described the sensation I have with the expander implant and that I have no feeling in my right breast. One of his many insights, is that my body isn’t recognising the implant. It’s not accepting it fully. Even the saline solution that is injected into the implant every so often to stretch the skin for my next surgery is foreign. That part of my body is blocked off.

My arm and shoulder sits above this area, so if the energy is blocked, then there is nothing to essentially support my shoulder and my arm. He described how an embryo grows its arm. It grows from the area of the collar bone and then it moves out into the fluid in the womb, blossoming and budding out. He said at the moment, my arm is like a cut flower that has been placed into water. I could barely lift my arm above shoulder height.

We discussed what I could do to help move things along. I expressed how difficult I was finding it to not be able to do anything besides go for a daily walk. I mentioned swimming and his response was that movement in water would be fine. His advice was to do fluid movements with my arm, visualizing it opening out. “The shoulder supports and the diaphragm expands.” He said I should breathe into the openings.

That weekend I’d planned to join a 24 hour meditation that started on Saturday and ended on Sunday. It was being held from the States, so I had to fit in with their time zone. Of course I wouldn’t be able to do the full 24 hours, but in the end I managed half. I sat for a couple of hours on Saturday evening, woke up at 2am to do some more, did another hour at around 8 am and scheduled to join in for the final couple of hours on Sunday evening.

Those last few hours clearly took me to a very deep place. I found myself in quiet prayer to God, asking for his help. I wanted my body to feel whole again. I felt like I couldn’t be asked to handle any more pain and discomfort. I wondered why I’d been so struck down by this injury. What was the lesson here? I connected calmly to the feeling I had in that moment and felt the tears begin to trickle down my cheeks. The message came through loud and clear and without hesitation. My body began to shake with sobs. Tears streamed out of my tired eyes, warming my skin and dripping onto my lap. In the silence of my room, I cried out, “I don’t know how to move forward, please help me! PLEASE help me!!”

I stayed there for as long as I felt necessary. Then without wiping my eyes, I got up, found my swimming costume and towel and walked up the road to the gym. It felt like I wasn’t really in control of what I was doing, but was surrendering to it. I got into the pool. Not a soul was there.  I was relieved to be able to work through this alone, with no distractions. I could really focus on myself.  The water was warm and calm as I began to move through it. Each step I took felt like I’d never really fully experienced or appreciated the beauty of water before.

This was one of those moments where I really felt like I’d released myself into something, and all I had to do was let go and have faith.

I paced gently forward, being careful not to upset my body too much. Small steps turned into slightly bigger strides, and then, without thought, I began moving through the water like a dancer. Slow, graceful stretches forward, combined with flowing balletic movements with my arms to compliment each step. It began to feel choreographed almost. I even added in a little Fosse to open up my chest a little more. As I moved from one side of the pool to the other, I started to become more creative with my movements, became aware of my breath slowing and flowing with the water. This slow shift in consciousness literally sent me into even more of a meditative state than I had already been in earlier.

I felt like the water was there to support and carry me and no matter what positions I chose, my body would respond and would welcome this movement. I had said that I didn’t know how to move forward, and yet there I was, moving forward, with tear stains on my cheeks and a hopeful heart.

I felt more and more like the dancer I used to be. Memories of my ballet classes started to come back. As naturally as it had felt to move through the water, I found myself guided to a position at the edge of the pool, facing the wall. I began doing a ballet barre underwater. My hip didn’t seem to mind this. I held my arm close to my body, as it felt weaker. My allocated hour in the pool came to an end and I left the poolside with a dancers swagger. Well maybe not quite a swagger, but something had definitely shifted.

Thanks for reading this long one 🙂

More insights to follow!

Seeing The Bigger Picture

As I shared in the last blog, I’ve been carrying this injury around for many months. As a dancer, I suppose you get used to just picking yourself up and moving onto the next thing. That’s exactly what I’ve done. That’s not to say that we don’t respect our bodies and take care of them, we do. Our minds are strong and our determination and discipline is solid. It’s also in my nature to not wallow and to just get on with things.

I have a tendency to approach life from many different angles. It’s not always useful and most times, people react like I’m living on another planet, but it works for me. I love looking at my life from a deep place of introspection and reflection and then, as I come out of that space, I’m able to integrate the lessons even more so I can move into a new space. And then I usually start all over again. There’s always some hill to climb 🙂

The energy is palpable and vibrant when I come out the other side. I feel like I can take on the world! Life is pulsing through my veins and there is this super-charged electricity in the air. I am feeling this abundant energy right now as I sit here to share the next section of my blog. Life is beautiful and fascinating and all I can say is.. I feel grateful to be here and to be able to communicate something of my journey with you!!

I spoke in the previous blog of the wonderful energies that had come into my life to help me cope with this injury. I was first led to a Shiatsu practitioner who lives not too far from where I am. I’d never explored Shiatsu before. I was able to walk to her which was helpful, as I do love a good walk. Her treatments were very calming for me and her advice and gentleness was exactly what I needed. I had two sessions with her.

The second session shifted my energy so much that when I came back to the house and sat in my room, I couldn’t sit in it anymore. As I sat quietly on the edge of my bed, I was overwhelmed by a feeling that I had to escape past this confined space I found myself in. I knew I had to act on it immediately. With the help of the kind lads in the house, and my careful planning, we moved the entire room around so there was nothing familiar about the space anymore. I felt myself lifting with every change we were making. My energy had shifted hugely and my environment needed to do the same to support this change.

This room has never felt better and I am a lot more productive as a result. I can’t describe the urgency of the need to shift the room around. It felt like I couldn’t wait a minute longer. The restlessness I felt was quite overwhelming and fascinating.

A few weeks went by and still, no change. The pain was extreme and debilitating and I felt exhausted with it. Looking back, I wish I’d been a bit more proactive. Perhaps I should have moved a little quicker towards another plan to help my body along. I felt fragile with the pain. Too fragile to make big movements, but that was probably not the right approach to have. My body needed movement. “Movement is life”, as they say.

I was guided by a close friend to get in touch with a Craniosacral Therapist in Australia who does distance healing. I’ve had great experiences with Cranio in the past, so I took her advice. Into my life came this loving, gentle and extremely powerful healer who at the drop of a hat, checks in with me to make sure that I’m coping. Often times, she’ll text me to say that she did another session on me. She offers this space up so generously and her insights have really been quite liberating for me. Both these energies are so special.

She was the first person to tell me that my body is carrying enormous shock and trauma and that although my core energy is incredibly strong, I’m not coping physically with all the changes that have taken place in my life. We broke it down. A move to London, a breast cancer diagnosis involving three surgeries and chemotherapy, which breaks down the immune system, and a career shift out of musical theatre into coaching.

We spoke about how I’ve always moved and expressed myself as a dancer my whole life. Dancing brought me joy. I was devoted to being a dancer. Over the last two years with this illness, it’s been difficult for me to sometimes even do a yoga class. I’ve also shifted my focus into writing and coaching which requires me to sit still and work at my desk for hours on end. All this adds up to the fact that my world is vastly different now.

We addressed the fact that I pick up the pieces and keep going in life which sometimes doesn’t serve me, as I actually don’t realise that I need time to recover. We spoke at length about the surgeries, particularly the mastectomy and the impact it has made on my body. I will possibly elaborate in a future blog, but it’s a very tender subject.

The area where the surgery took place is in need of some attention and healing, was her feedback to me. Hands on attention would have been a good idea after surgery, just some gentle massaging into the muscles. She said that the rib cage and the intercostal muscles haven’t recovered and ideally, should have had assistance from a Physiotherapist. The muscles and nerves are in shock and my body is imploding as a result.  When you’re going through chemotherapy there are a number of ways that you can receive help here in London. I think physio is on the list, but I never thought about it after the surgeries.

I feel this information is important to share as sometimes conversations around recovery don’t really cover all the areas that perhaps they should. I had no idea that I was carrying any shock or trauma. I’m generally positive and upbeat so most days it would be hard to tell if I was carrying anything. I try not to stay too long in places where the energy is stuck, although I don’t always succeed at it. This is a great lesson for me.

This awareness really gave me the opportunity to stop what I was doing and to rest. The amount of typing and writing I was doing every day was definitely not conducive to allowing my body to heal. I’m generally quite hard on myself. I have to have accomplished something fairly big at the end of my day. Usually it’s a long list of things. I had to really listen in and absorb the message she was giving me to slow everything down completely. I had to engage my thoughts and emotions to let go of the need to achieve anything, and to just let my body heal. I was able to adjust enough to feel better.

This healing is still very much a part of my reality, despite the time I took out to rest. My body clearly has more to teach me, so I’ve surrendered to it and continue to work through the pain.  I have more incredible insights to share when I introduce the next healer to you, who I am currently working with. We are making progress and I’m encouraged and inspired by what I’m learning about myself and the support I have.

Thanks for reading and supporting Safe Spaces!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Patience- My Final Phase of Healing

It takes a great deal of energy to withdraw. So says Carol K Anthony in her book, A Guide to the I Ching. I know this statement to be truer than true. I’ve tested it out on more occasions than I care to mention, for a wide range of reasons and it’s always shown me what I’ve needed to see, without fail. Withdrawal can really free something up to be what it needs to be and also expose the real truth of the situation. Thanks Carol!

The question is how much further am I being asked to withdraw? I’m not saying I find this challenging at all, I’m a natural hermit, but I also love being around people I care about and I genuinely do love people. I’m drawn to spontaneity and adventure and then I like to find my solitude, so I can process life and renew my energy and then step out into the world again. To withdraw at the precise moment that I felt myself expanding. How would this work? I felt so ready to start fresh. I’ve been in isolation for ages.

There is nothing like an illness or an injury to test your skills and resources. This walk with cancer has been the most exquisitely difficult journey. It’s not one that I’d ever want to trade-in for something else and certainly not one I’d like to repeat. So, there will be no trading-in and no repeating, only healing from here onwards. Yay!!

I have titled this blog, My Final Phase of Healing, because I have a very strong sense that I am now at the final sprint of this race, towards the finishing line. Well, the current situation doesn’t exactly allow a final sprint, perhaps a gentle jog, but let’s see how things unfold. If anyone can do “patience”, it’s me. We all need to be patient right now and rushing decisions will only work against us, so one day at a time. Easy does it!

On the subject of sprinting, I loved being an athlete when I was in junior school. I remember being a part of the relay team. I was always placed in the position of the final runner. It’s called the anchor leg. They say this position is given to the fastest or most experienced competitor on the team. I didn’t know this. I’ve just googled it right now. It says, “The person is responsible for making up ground on the race-leader or preserving the lead already secured by their teammates.” Huh, that’s cool to know.

I’m saying with some sense of certainty that there will be no repeating of this illness because, I have faith in this statement, the last couple of tests and appointments I’ve had have been positive for me, and also because there is still so much more for me to do in this life. How incredible to be given this opportunity for growth and reinvention. I feel it’s all now integrated fully into my awareness and is working its way out my body. A few bumps still here and there, but we all have those right now.

There is one final hurdle to jump over and that will happen once things ease up with COVID. I’m a patient, with patience, and I know I’m in the best hands here.

The last time I checked in to Safe Spaces and to Cool Mindz, I shared a blog I’d written about Balance. The opening line was, “Sometimes you have to withdraw so you can renew yourself.” This was published on the 6th of August. I had no idea then how long my recovery would take, but I didn’t expect it to last as long as it has. I’m still not quite there, but I’m making quite a lot of progress, I’m told. Slowly catch the monkey 🙂

So where have I been and what have I been up to? I’ve still been putting Cool Mindz at the centre of everything and have managed to carry on developing the content, creating the exercises and doing the research, but it’s happened in gradual stages, according to what I’m able to cope with. I’ve managed to keep the focus, but I have experienced a great deal of pain and frustration along the way. I’ve had some days where I’ve had to remain fairly still and force myself to watch Netflix. Haha!! Any recommendations?

Mikayla and I have continued working together. She is an absolute gift to me. I’m currently putting all of our work together to present as “evidence’’ of how I work as a transformation coach, and will begin sharing bits and pieces on social media in the coming months. It’s exciting for me right now, despite the pain and discomfort.

The beauty of pain and discomfort is the discovery of what, how, where and why it’s presenting itself to you at the time it is. I’m a huge promoter of digging deep into all the areas of your life, so you can find clues, patterns and reasons as to why your body is reacting in the way that it is. This is how I learn and uncover what’s mine and what belongs to someone else. It’s allowed me to heal and to see my relationships in a different light. The physical manifestations of our emotions can be fascinating.

This blog was initially set up for me to be open and to share, so I’m going to continue to do that. I may not reveal all the intimate details, but I will share enough so you get an idea and then hopefully, if you recognise similar patterns, you can reflect on your own life and see if anything comes up for you to look at too. Or you can just read.

I’ve been working with quite a few beautiful energies over the last few months. Some are just through research I’ve done on-line, links I’ve been sent from friends, conversations I’ve had with those who really know and understand me, and also some revelations I’ve had from my meditations. The information may end up all being muddied together, but there are distinct areas where I’ve been given information by healers about what I’m currently dealing with. I will share this in stages as I continue to write.

I shared in my last blog that I suspected that I’d developed Repetitive Strain Injury. I was experiencing a lot of pain in my arm and shoulder and was starting to have less use of it with each day. It was an incredibly active time for me, from a writing point of view especially, but I had also begun to be fairly active on social media. This brought up a few things for me which I don’t mind sharing. I know some feel the same.

I resisted conversations with friends who said I needed to get Cool Mindz “out there” and onto social media platforms. I’ve had a long career, some of which has been in the public eye, and have never taken to self-promotion. Thankfully, I was lucky enough to have a beautiful flow of work and experiences, so I never really felt I needed to promote myself.

Although I am still continuing my career as an actor, I am now adding a new title on to my skill set. I’m working as a transformation coach and Cool Mindz is brand new. I understand the need to put it out there a little more and have really enjoyed receiving the lovely feedback about the website and the concept. I did however find it interesting that just as I was resisting this expectation for me to promote myself, that my body decided to shut down and I found myself unable to do that.

At exactly the same time as this happened, I made a new connection with someone who sent a “lovely to connect” message to my inbox, saying that if I had a book to publish, I should get in touch.  I found the timing to be very interesting and although the message wasn’t directed specifically at me, I had in fact written a book to help others with their journey through cancer. The book has been ready for quite some time, but I am resisting it. I’ve still not had the time to focus on why this is, as I’ve been distracted by so much lately, but I suspect the answers will surface as the rest of this all becomes clearer than it already is right now. I did get in touch and now have a lovely, like-minded “white butterfly” soul connection, so all is not lost and perhaps the timing isn’t right yet.

Resistance seems to be a theme here and not something that will be useful to me at a time when I’m ready to move out of the journey I’ve had with an illness. I didn’t resist that much when things were difficult, so why should I resist the good things that are coming my way? The answers will be incredibly obvious to you, the reader, who is reading this. We all do it. I don’t know many people who haven’t mastered the ability to self-sabotage, especially in the industry I’ve been in most of my life. This is but one thought to many different realisations that have been coming to me over time.

So, as I unpack this all very slowly, I hope my sharing helps in some way or another. It’s really been such an incredibly difficult couple of weeks trying to get my body to co-operate, but the lessons and the insights, as they have always been, are really quite magical. I’m extremely grateful.

I’m ending this blog by attaching this quote I found. It’s so appropriate for me currently and no doubt will be for you too. The changes that are taking place within us at this challenging moment in time are the gifts that we have to offer the world, to move the energy forward, and if we continue to resist, what we could have built, will only be destroyed or destroy us.

Why would I choose that for myself, is the question that needs answering.

Why would any of us?

“If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you”                                                                                  The Gospel of Thomas

You can find Cool Mindz on Instagram at cool_mindz, Twitter @MindzCool and get in touch on the Cool Mindz website at coolmindz.co.uk

Hopefully I would have started posting again by then 🙂

Thanks for supporting this blog!

Balance

Sometimes you have to withdraw so you can renew yourself.

This doesn’t mean that you abandon something important and that the effort you put in ceases, it just means you have to prioritize so you can find the balance again. 

Having gone through a journey with cancer, my health comes first. I would hope that anyone who is dealing with a challenge in their lives, would do the same for themselves. 

Creating cool mindz hasn’t been a simple journey, but it’s been extremely rewarding. I’m passionate about helping people. There is no-one else but me who has to put the content together, do the research, follow through with feedback, create the next lesson and so on and so on.

The way I’ve structured cool mindz puts the client at the centre of everything. Sometimes an entire day is taken up with looking at what they’re struggling with and planning the course of action, so that we can work together to get them to where they’d like to be. It’s an intimate investigation and an absolute honour for me to be able to navigate and assist them in whatever way I can.

I develop and create each exercise from scratch, so I can incorporate them into the theme and focus of the session. It’s all in my mind and can sometimes be left germinating for a few weeks before I’m able to put it down on paper. Sometimes the idea breaks through with a rush of energy an hour before I’m due to start the session. I then quickly make my adjustments and stay in the moment with what’s coming through. I listen to what’s there, pay attention, surrender and know with absolute clarity that what is meant to be created for my client will arrive on time.

It’s all about being in the moment and having absolute faith that whatever needs to be addressed will surface. There is a beautiful flow of give and take in the sessions. As I’ve mentioned in my 8 Principles for Transformation on the website, you are guided gently to dig deep and unpack the things that are no longer serving you and speak the truth of your life. Your sessions are set up with these 8 Principles in mind. 

Mikayla, who is my first cool minder, is really starting to blossom. She was brave to begin with, but I’ve seen something shift in her which has resulted in her making some very good decisions for herself. She is lucky to have quite a bit of guidance in her life, but she says cool mindz has definitely made a difference. She is faced with some challenges currently, but she is determined to push through and can see that there is light ahead. She has even experimented with putting a boundary down with something in her life, and the result was instant and very positive for her. Her level of truth is exemplary, her vision and approach is inspiring and her intuition is emerging quite strongly. We are currently looking at surrender and fear and I have no doubt that she will rise above it all and step into her power. I feel she is going to make a big difference in this world and I am incredibly proud of her.

I am really loving my time as a transformation coach for cool mindz. It’s special to wake up and have something to focus my energy on that has the capacity to make a difference. There are so many wonderful souls out there right now who are committed to helping others. It’s a huge privilege to be a part of that community.

I’ve chosen to write about balance because it’s something I teach. It’s also something I “live”. I can’t take care of anyone who is working with me, unless I am taking care of myself. I’ve had a very intense couple of months, if not years and sometimes I’m not sure where the “off” switch is. One thing I can rely on, is that the Universe will always step in and shake my world up, when it’s time for me to step back and rest.

I surrender easily, most of the time.

Cool mindz comes through me. It’s up to me to create and deliver according to what I feel the client needs. There is no text book to work from. Each idea has to be drawn, sketched or written out and embellished on. The research I do and the amount of information I gather from the client is sometimes vast and takes days to stay on top of. It’s been a difficult couple of weeks not being able to do that in the way I’ve grown accustomed to. I’ve developed what I think is Repetitive Strain Injury or something of that nature.

I’ve had great difficulty using my working arm and a general inability to be able to type and write. I rely on both for cool mindz. I have no doubt that this injury will leave my body soon. I wouldn’t have managed to write this if there wasn’t a small improvement, but I will still have to pace myself.

If you’re looking on social media for information on cool mindz, I will be truthful. It’s not my priority to post every day, although I did make an attempt and managed to keep it up till my injury. I have respect and understand its value, but my commitment is with, and for my clients first and foremost. I will be as consistent as life allows me to be. The balance between my personal life and me staying and maintaining my health, requires that I every so often put a boundary down. I’m not afraid to do that. It doesn’t mean I’m less passionate about my work, it actually means that I’m taking it more seriously and giving it my utmost attention. The energy has to ignite and start with me, be transferred to my clients with cool mindz and then perhaps shared, as and when I can on line. I admire those who post constantly and consistently and I have not doubt that they are impacting positively on their communities. I support you and salute you all. 

If you think that cool mindz is something that could help you, or someone close to you, then please get in touch through the website or any of the social media platforms. If you already follow cool mindz on any of these platforms, thank you so much for your support and enthusiasm. I hope that no matter where you are in the world, that you are making the most of this time and I wish you and your loved ones, comfort and hope for the time ahead. Stay balanced and focus on the good.

In support and friendship,

Taryn

Website: coolmindz.co.uk

Instagram: cool_mindz

Twitter: @MindzCool

Email: taryn@coolmindz.co.uk

Just Push Through

Where does time go? I had every intention of trying to keep this blog going, but sometimes life takes you in another direction.

The last post for safespaces was 8 October 2019. I can’t even attempt to fill in the missing links or to make any kind of promises to keep this commitment, but I’ll show up when I can and I am truly grateful to see that this blog still has support and interest. Thank you for supporting me in my desire to share my journey.

There is a renewing energy taking place in my life which has been building over a long period of time.  An expansion on so many levels that doesn’t always feel comfortable, but I’m surrendering to it every day and just doing my best. I know I’ve probably written these exact words in previous blogs. New beginnings…every day!! I’m so grateful.

An explosion of ideas has been taking form, which can sometimes overwhelm me to the point that I just have to step back and visit things as and when I have the energy to do so. Lockdown has taken its toll on many people I know, but for me, it’s been the most productive time.

Every day, I’m surrounded by pages and pages of notes containing ideas, instructions and lists of priorities. I make more notes on those notes and then I staple them together and add that on to the pile from the previous day. My main issue is that there just don’t seem to be enough hours in the day and I wish my organisational skills weren’t as useless as they are, but I’m making it work. I have my own crazy method I suppose.

Anyone who follows me here as well as on other platforms will know that my website went live last week for cool mindz. This has been a project of mine that I’ve really taken my time with.

I won’t lie, I’m exhausted!!! Even as I sit here, trying to connect, I could just fall back to sleep and shut myself off. I’m truly not made for social media and all that is expected of you. I understand its benefits and worth in the grand scheme of things, but boy do I struggle. In the last couple of days, I’ve been lucky to have friends who have found the time to talk me through the technicalities of a few things. I’m really not keen to be spending all day on my phone, especially when I chose to keep fairly to myself while going through treatment, but I’ll give it a go.

I have promised myself to try to prioritize my health and put myself first, and that’s a promise worth keeping considering the journey I’ve been on since I was diagnosed in August 2018. It’s going to be a bit of a battle though, as there is just so much that I want to do and the acceleration of time is making that extremely challenging.

So with that being said. For anyone who is battling through this period of lockdown, with all love and respect, I can’t recommend it enough that you try to look beyond your situation. Where there is darkness there is always light and even a small flicker of light is enough to get you to see your way. There is always value that you can add and an opportunity to reach out, but you probably won’t see that opening if you are only looking at the devastating circumstances of your life and the lives of others.

In the last couple of weeks I have become aware of friends who have loved ones that are starting their walk with cancer treatment and to them I say, just push through. You will get to the other side and when you do, you will experience life with more love and gratitude than you could ever have imagined. The twists and turns of life can really push you to grow and see things in a unique and different way.

On the way back from a walk, just a few days ago, I said out loud how grateful I was to have been diagnosed with breast cancer. I think I said, “thank you cancer, for coming into my life and showing me so much beauty.” I know to most people that seems absurd, but honestly, it’s the truth of what is real for me.

So as we are entering a new month, with renewing energy and a long road ahead that is mostly uncertain, I would say to you, go within, and connect to the things in your life that DO feel certain, and while you are doing that, put all of your love and energy into growing THAT instead of being pulled into the energy of this virus and all that it means.

As human beings, we are uncomfortable with the unknown, we want answers, we want our problems resolved immediately, we are impatient and intolerant and mostly move towards the negative aspects of our lives first. Look to the positive, look to the horizon, move towards that little flicker of light.

Be patient. Persevere. Go within. Express gratitude for what you DO have. Pray for others, find the joy and be safe.

You can find cool mindz on Instagram at cool_mindz, Twitter @MindzCool and get in touch on the cool mindz website at coolmindz.co.uk

Creating

I have received some lovely feedback and support lately about my blog and want to say a huge thank you to those who are still following it. It’s incredibly special to me 🙂

I’m just communicating, in case you’re wondering where I’ve been. I am healing really well and feel strong and empowered. My body is coming back to itself which is really beautiful to experience. I am writing every day still, but my view has expanded beyond the blog, so with this in mind, I will have to keep my focus towards this new goal. I may share tiny bits of creativity here and there and if there is anything anyone would like to open up a conversation about, please feel free to comment.

Perhaps as a starter, I could ask what you may have gained from reading the blog and what I could add that would help give more insights?

Be well and happy and light 🙂

A Sky Full Of Clouds

My walk this morning wasn’t the usual. The sky was filled with low-hanging clouds that were moving and changing rather swiftly. It was alive with possibility and would be any child’s delight, if they could spend the entire day lying on their backs, discovering different shapes and magical friends in the sky. As I write this, I look out my window to see a flying dog on his way to something fun I’m sure.

I arrived in my park and was greeted by a big, open field with not a dog or friendly face in sight. I was completely alone and it was only one hour after the school bell had rung so I wondered if there was something I didn’t know.

 My meditation was interrupted this morning by the inquisitive voices of the children arriving at school after a long break. There was much to discuss. I could hear them commenting about the various changes to the playground area and they seemed delighted with the renovations. I have been watching the ‘old become the new’ over the holidays as there have been lots of busy bees who have been hard at work to make the playground special for when school term begins again. Anyway, I will have to get back into my very early morning routine with my meditation so I can find silence, but I’ve enjoyed lying in for a little longer, while everyone has been off gallivanting and having a fun holiday.

Anyway, back to my walk. I took to the field with my headphones on and found my pace and groove when all of a sudden I began to feel something that I hadn’t felt for a while. I started to feel a little uncomfortable. I reached the beginning of my second lap and noticed that a black car was now parked in the parking lot and a man was sitting next to it, on his phone. He wasn’t looking at me, but his presence felt slightly ominous, for no good reason. I decided to just carry on and not give in to the insecurity.

 I was drawn back to another time, when I was in Australia. I was looking for somewhere to go for a  run and was told that there was a nice athletics track down the road from where I was staying. I arrived at the track to find that there were only two people running around the track, two young guys, just jogging and chatting and paying no attention to me. I began my workout and found my pace was a little faster than theirs, so I caught up and passed them and this continued for a while. My body was happy to be moving and challenging itself, but my mind was sprinting me into a slightly darker dimension. It became clear to me that I was beginning to feel a little exposed and slightly insecure running along the track, alone, being the only woman there. I talked myself into all kinds of outcomes and predicaments and as a result, my ‘fun time’ was brought to an abrupt halt and I stepped off the track leaving the darkness behind.

Today was no different. As I was about to curve round into my third lap, I looked at the car and saw that the man was no longer there, but the window was down on the passenger side. I took my headphones off, continued walking and as I arrived at the far side of the field, I exited out of the gate and into the field next door. I told myself I was being ridiculous! I walked towards a tree on the edge of the field and decided it needed a hug. I BLOODY NEEDED THE HUG, NOT THE TREE…

 I hadn’t been under my tree for long when a white truck drove onto that field and began driving very slowly, straight towards the tree. I undid myself from the trunk and took a little detour onto the next field, below that field. Was I going mad here? I looked back nonchalantly to see the vehicle had stopped and the two men sitting in the front were casually chatting to one another, probably not even aware of me and my silly suspicions. I walked once around the lower field, back up to the same tree once they had driven off and then ‘escaped’ out the side fence into the road that would take me back to the house.

One thing is certain, my mother is not going to like this post as she is constantly worried about my safety. I’m often asked by friends whether I feel safe here and my reply is affirmative and clear. This wasn’t a simple issue of feeling safe or not. I think it alerted me to something that another friend had spoken of recently which relates to being in fight or flight mode a lot of the time in South Africa. It occurred to me that no matter where I am, I’m constantly checking the environment I’m in and am taking stock of the people and situations around me so I can make sure I’m in control. It’s instinctive.

The field I walk around is extremely safe and surrounded by houses. There is no reason to feel at risk and until now, I haven’t felt any inclination towards any concerns about my well-being, whether there is one dog walker or more. I immediately realized what was happening.

In the last couple of days I have heard a few stories of woman and young girls being abducted, attacked and raped. I am well aware that unfortunately this happens all over the world, but these have taken place back in South Africa and this news has devastated me. I can only think they are in my subconscious mind now and so took up some space in my head. It would have been so much nicer to be able to enjoy my walk and relish being out in nature as I always do, but this is the world we live in and I can’t help but feel the loss, confusion and concern for friends and loved ones.

My heart goes out to anyone who is affected by the devastation and harshness that is sometimes inflicted upon human beings. I wish our world could be as beautiful and light as the clouds were in my sky today.