The Alchemy of LOVE - On turning 60
As I say goodbye to my 50’s and hello to my 60’s I thought this moment; that feels rather like a welcome and important threshold, would be a good time to harvest some of the teachings I’ve come to learn and live over the years. Each decade seems to offer up its’ own unique themes, initiations and invitations, noticing that they build so beautifully upon each other as the moments turn into years that make up a life well lived and loved.
If you’ve ever read the book “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho (and if you haven’t, I highly recommend you do), you come to understand that life truly is a remarkable adventure, an unfurling path of destiny, risks, choices, hopes, dreams, setbacks, redirects and opportunity abound. Alchemy is the process, the quest of transforming basic metal into gold. Separating light from dark. Working with the elements and materials of what you have through the environments and experiences of life and via the “great work” of devotion and practice, alchemizing them into new forms and expressions.
And so … I gather and share this harvesting of alchemic gold; a sampling of the love, light and delight of what I’ve learned and am living, as a love note to the magical inner alchemist that resides within us all.
The relationship you have with yourself is the blueprint for all other relationships. You are worthy of all the LOVE, joy, respect, care, support and peace of mind. In all, but especially in love relationships, stay true to who you are – don’t sacrifice your self-care, your passions, your past-times, your friends, your needs, your curiosity et al. Make time and space to be and do you and allow/support your beloveds to do and be themselves.
Also, people are not projects. Love them for who they are, not for what they could be or for what they can do for you.
Being a Mum and Lover to my darlings are beyond language and each have required me to grow an additional heart. These two men, these two relationships are my favorite place, people and lottery prize of life. There are no words, but a LOVE beyond what I could have ever imagined.
The idea of you being both the lock and key come to mind on the subject of boundaries. I could write for days on this topic alone, but ultimately what you say “yes” and “no” to, is a powerful choice of where, what, how and with whom you choose to spend the resources of your energy, time, heart, and sense of joy.
There is no medicine quite like snort laughing, singing or dancing to your favourite song, a meal that tastes like home (preferably shared with people that feel like LOVE).
Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t know. Being open to the idea of having your perspective change, learn something new, or expand your understanding is far more interesting than being “right”.
A sense of wonder will yield you more access to the mystery, the magic, the delight and the miracle of life.
Be Generous with your heart, your listening, your kindness, your apologies, your forgiveness and your resources (be that extra cash or the sunshine of your smile).
You are not a machine. Prioritize your self-care as you do your productivity. Tend well. Rest well. Sleep well. Be Well. When your cup is full, you become both the recipient and the resource of wellness and all you do benefits because of it.
We truly do become what we practice. Focusing on the “have’s” versus the “have not’s” is the secret to feeling content, present and in a state of appreciation and receptivity for the simple pleasures of what is here and what truly matters. To live as a human “thank you” makes me feel like I’m living in relationship with the gift versus the transactional and that feels rich far beyond any measure of material wealth.
When people show you who they are. Believe them (thank you Maya Angelou). Equally, when people tell you who you are and who you are not; make haste for the hills.
Visit often the places, the interests, the activities and the people that make your heart sing.
Embrace the Analog. Screens and tech are helpful tools to connect, explore, learn, communicate and entertain. But nothing replaces real life, heart to heart connection, your own original thoughts and experiences lived first-hand. We are energetic, intuitive, emotional beings with nervous systems that are designed to thrive in environments of nature, beauty, art, creativity and regular periods of quiet and stillness.
Care and show up for what matters most. In this current culture of canceling, ghosting and othering it’s more important than ever to not exacerbate separate-ness and be empathetic towards others. Practice seeing people as human beings, each with their own unique and wondrous mind, brilliant gifts and beautiful hearts and remember that no-one can possibly know what another carries inside. One inroad to cultivating care is to pay attention to what another is sharing and centering their perspective, feelings and experience as the priority and not your own. Caring is not an act of the mind, but of the heart. Another wise pearl from the great Maya Angelou “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Be a safe place for people to feel truly welcomed without being judged, labeled or “fixed”.
A Yoga Practice
Movement + Strength + Flexibility + Mindfulness + Breathwork + Balance + Alignment + Community. Yoga simply makes whatever you do – better. I came to the practice reluctantly, by way of a running injury and have never looked back. Rather like the saying about the ideal time to plant a fruit tree … was 10 years ago or today. Yoga is always the right time.
A poem can stop time and transport you into a world of language, emotion and metaphor whilst subsequently elevating the mundane into the magnificent. Meditation, medicine and food for the soul.
One of my favorite poets is Mary Oliver; for her adoration of the natural world and her exquisite gift of capturing its beauty as prescriptions of softening against the harshness of life.
Cleo Wade is another favorite for her talent to braid heart wisdom into poems.
Padraig O Tuama for his mastery to unfold the universe that lives inside of a poem like no other.
Share with others the goodness you see in them. Appreciation, admiration and applause should not be kept to oneself. “A rising tide, lifts all boats.”
“Refuse to Rush” as a way of moving through your days. Don’t allow the urgency of others to become your pace, your priority or your responsibility.
Optimism is one of my most prized resources. It is part belief system and part perspective that feels like a marriage of hope, positivity and faith that helps me keep my mind open to the potential of what is possible in myself, other people, situations and the world, despite the contrary. Optimism is my antidote to despair and helps me rise above the level of the problem to innovate, improvise, improve and shape better tomorrows.
Many thoughts on this subject, but so far, these tried and tested are working for me:
Trust that you can’t miss what is truly for you.
An idea without action remains an idea. Act. Act. Act.
Manifestation is the intersection of groundwork of preparation meeting the moment of opportunity.
Be clear about what you’re going after and why – just because we can do a thing, doesn’t necessarily mean we should.
Don’t manifest for other people. Inspire/Empower them to make it happen for themselves.
Energies, crystals, altars, ritual, clear vision and intention are only ingredients. You are the cake.
Manifesting from a place of lack, fear, doubt is not a good recipe for success.
To a certain degree you manifest what you settle for - some things are worth holding out for.
Believe in yourself. Trust your intuition. Trust your knownings. Trust your magic. Trust your heart.
Some Quiet Sources of Suffering
Having expectations to specific outcomes
The need to be right
An angry heart
Waiting on permission, approval, validation, an apology
Keeping quiet when you need to speak up
Ignoring your Intuition
Expect to be Delighted and you’ll be amazed at how often this becomes your reality.
Have something, do something that is just for you and safeguard it with a fierce devotion. In this world of oversharing everything, its’ nice to have a tiny corner of your life that’s reserved for you and you alone.
Forgiveness is the gateway to freedom from suffering and the key to moving on. When you don’t forgive yourself or another, you keep an aspect of the thing that happened alive. You are worthy of all the real estate in your heart – don’t keep corners of your most precious resource closed off by the energies of anger, resentment and woundedness.
Be forever curious and fascinated about all of life – especially with the subject of you.
Joy is your birthright – don’t let the world steal it from you.
Be honest. Looking in the mirror and knowing the integrity and truth of who you are is everything. “Fake it till you make it” can serve as a temporary helper, but there’s a lot of energy required in constantly swimming against the current of who you know yourself to be. Being true to yourself frees up that energy and the struggle is transformed into flow.
Don’t wait for the “perfect” time to do the thing. Say the thing. Make the thing. Start the damn thing. Fear has a tendency to move in and occupy the space and habit of waiting, so you may as well get on with it.
Your happiness is 100% your responsibility. Never outsource your joy. When we tether our happiness to external situations, people and outcomes, we set ourselves up for disappointment and place unreasonable burdens on factors outside of our own jurisdiction and heart.
What you pay attention to expands. Where you invest your time, energy and love is where you invest your life.
No-one but no-one is above or below another.
All has value. Nothing is wasted or random. Especially the difficult, the unthinkable, the devastating. Sometimes life is shit-tastical beyond belief and will swallow up entire seasons and aspects of ourselves and all we can do is shelter in place and learn how to be our own lifeboat. When the storm passes, tend to your heart, gather a healing team and process process process. Don’t allow circumstances, situations, adversity or heartbreak to you define you. You are far more magnificent than the thing that happened.
Mind your language – your words have the power to heal or harm.
Having various types of friendships will nourish the multitude of layers that is you. Friends are the kin you assemble for yourself. What a gift it is to know and be known, adore and be adored, uplift and be uplifted by another.
The source of your healing is not typically found in the same place as your harming, but there comes a day when not facing the thing is no longer an option. When that day comes, make your healing a priority. Ask for support. Dedicate and devote time and space for the work. Gather a team of safe and trusted allies (know that helpers can also be elemental, esoteric and spiritual in nature). Take breaks from deep dive inner work to be in the ordinary and the extraordinary moments of your life. Gentleness, patience and compassion for your Self are enormously helpful. Don’t over-identify with your wounding. You get to define yourself and create your stories based on your truth, not your pain or the projections of others. Give yourself a lot of love and credit for doing the work that no-one wants (and many choose not) to do. Gifts of profound awareness, radical self-love and freedom from suffering await. You are an Alchemist.
Some Surprising Teachers
Regret – has led to taking action.
Frustration – has led to making changes.
Stuckness/Apathy – has led to discovering what motivates and inspires me and choosing it.
Trauma – has led to healing and a destined vocation.
Other people’s BS – has led to boundaries.
Dead Ends – has led to innovation, new directions and new ways of being.
Resentment – has led to understanding and taking responsibility for my own needs.
Disappointment – has led to surrendering control of outcomes and expectations.
“Failure” – has led to learning something new and a better way to do it. The only true failure is in not trying.
Self-abandonment has led to unshakable Self LOVE.
Fear – has led to learning to do/say/be the thing anyway.
Fitting in – has evolved to “Fitting Out” (aka Selfhood)
Walking with questions – leads to Living the answers.
Above all else. LOVE. For it is the point. The how. The why. The way.
Choose it. Be it. Become an agent for it. A ripple of it. A forever student and teacher of it. LOVE yourself completely and invite it to live through you and in this way, you will always be the vibration of LOVE in a given situation and a champion for what is most needed in our world.