The Linguistic Genius of Babies

This is a fascinating watch for ten minutes. I think there are a lot of implications for the future which need careful consideration; us humans are always trying to know and understand everything, but in unethical, power-hungry or purely ‘scientific’ hands (detached from the innately interpersonal nature of our being), this knowledge can be very dangerous indeed.

Watch in awe, but ask questions too.

Au Revoir, 2012!

Despite my ego’s criticism of the formulaic predictability of reviewing the last twelve months as this year draws to a rainy, grey close, I am going to put down my highlights of the last twelve months anyway. Just because a lot of people are doing it, doesn’t make it any less sacred or important for me to do, too.

So, here is my year…

  • Married beautiful Nige, and planned our wedding in 37 days.
  • Papa Bear's speechHoneymooned in Italy – beautiful. Those 7am swims were glorious.
  • Choreographed Acorn Antiques for Henfield Theatre Company. I stuck with it even when I really didn’t want to.
  • Rode two sportives on my bike.
  • Rode my first ever 20% climb in Surrey.
  • Set a PB on Botolphs.
  • Supported Nige in his sportives, and cheered Claire along on her amazing 10k run.
  • Worked all year as an English teacher, meeting so many incredible people who touched my heart.

RAFO guys on their last day

  • Worked privately with English clients.
  • Started Learn English with Elloa on Facebook, on this blog and via my newsletter.
  • Edited and published 5 editions of The Ripple, Clearmind’s quarterly magazine.
  • Edited and published Graham’s book, How to be a Productivity Ninja, which got to number one on Amazon and got lots of 5 star reviews.

Went to Prague, Vienna, Rimine, Berlin, and of course Liverpool 😉 Vienna

  • Assisted an Awakening workshop. Life-changing.
  • Stayed connected with Nige throughout the year, getting to know him more, and letting him know me.
  • Strengthened my friendships with Lian, Liz, Helene and Anna – love you girls.

Friends of a very happy bride

  • Started writing a workshop with Nige. (Interested? Email me!)
  • Rode 1,500 miles on my bike.
  • Trained really well in the first quarter of the year.
  • Started my diploma in teaching.
  • Applied and was accepted to speak at the IATEFL conference in April.
  • Decided to do Drawing Down the Moon workshop, committed and paid.
  • Decided to do Prac and committed by putting it ‘out there’.
  • Started Style Coaching with Kim and have made huge progress (watch this space for the next installment!).
  • Had lots of fun dates with Nige including Pulborough Brooks nature reserve, tea rooms, Nandos, cinema trips, beach walks, amateur theatre, butterfly house and lots of lovely meals out.

Best mates and mighty companions

  • Went to Kiara’s birthday party and saw her again at the mind body spirit festival in Brighton.
  • Meditated every day for the last 5 or six weeks.
  • Did ACIM lessons 1-29 every day for the last 29 days.
  • Spoke to my maternal Granny for the first time in years, went to my Grandma’s 80th birthday party, and finally had that meal with Nige and Julie.
  • Had Sage to stay in January.
  • Roadied for Nige over Christmas.
  • Edited Kick Ass Fridays for Nige and put his website together.
  • Siblings met each other for the first time ever. Wow!

Disappointments

  • Didn’t save any money.
  • Put weight on towards the end of the year.
  • Re-allowed sugar into my life.
  • Didn’t see as much of my family as I’d have liked to.
  • Didn’t see my friends enough.
  • Jema and Rebecca… miss you both.

Looking ahead… What is 2013 for?

  • TRUST. Trusting that Spirit’s got my back, that things are unfolding perfectly.
  • Spiritual practice is non-negotiable. Daily meditation is to be as much as part of my life as breakfast and breathing.

That’s it for me in terms of intentions. I am keeping it really simple. I want God to be at the centre of my life. I may do a 10 day Vipassana silent meditation; I may not. I may write a book; I may not. I may blog; I may not. But one thing I am committing to is walking my path with God, Love and remembering the truth at the forefront of my consciousness.

What about you, dear one – how has your year been?

And what are you taking into 2013?

Love you. Thank you for being you.

Elloa xx

Twenty-eight, twenty-nine

This post was written on July 14th, 2012.

I woke with a bolt this morning, body and mind jolting me into consciousness simultaneously. “I made it!” I thought excitedly and with a dawning freshness that comes from realizing that the slate is indeed clean. “Twenty-nine.”

Today is my birthday. Perhaps it was the coffee I drank at 5pm yesterday, but more likely it was the awareness in my mind and body that today, fourteenth July 2012, marks an important milestone for me. I’m not the kind of person to make a big deal of birthdays externally – I’m pretty lax when it comes to even getting a card to my nearest and dearest on their days, let alone a present, and I rarely do anything special or ‘big’ to celebrate my own day.

However, one thing is sure: I will take time to reflect, connect with myself and zoom out for a moment, getting a bird’s eye view on my life, going back and marvelling for a while, and giving myself a jolly good pat on the back for everything I’ve achieved and what I’ve come through, both in my life and over the last year. It’s an organic process; my waking up at 4.30am today wasn’t consciously intended, but it somehow seems inevitable. As I nodded off last night, the clock nearing the chime of twelve, I bid au revoir to the closing of the last twelve months. ‘Goodbye, 28’… and into dreamland I went.

Twenty-eight.

Twenty-eight was pretty darn good to me. I told Nige as we said our goodnights that if I were to die at this point in my life, that I would feel satisfied with it. I’ve had a good innings and I already feel a sense of completion. I wouldn’t be dying with regrets on my lips and heaviness in my heart. I’ve overcome enough obstacles in my life, have woken up on thousands of days and have wanted to live my purpose, have lived spontaneously and expressively, have loved, been heartbroken, and have gone on a journey of the soul to reclaim my wounded childhood self that has been so painful, so challenging and so integrity building that I know that I have already been, seen, felt and done enough. If I weren’t to wake up this morning, I thought last night, I would be really okay with that.

There is an immense freedom in this. I don’t feel bound by the weight of things not yet achieved. No house? So what. No public recognition of my outstanding achievement to humankind? I don’t need to prove my worth, thank you very much; my life is precious beyond description and I have made an enormous impact simply by trying to move through the umpteen layers of fear that have paralysed me and return to, and then extend, love. So I haven’t spent the last ten years building a high flying corporate career for myself. But I have come to a place where I know – or perhaps sense is a better word – in my whole body, that I’m where I’m meant to be when I’m teaching. And along the way I’ve worked in artificially lit offices, have travelled to Hong Kong, have waited on tables and served pints, have stacked and cleared and merchandised, weeded and punctuated and scrubbed, and have been disappointed many a time by the words, ‘We regret to inform you that your application’…

Twenty-eight.

You’ve been good to me. I met you at a time of internal turmoil, my life at a crossroads, my visibility lost. I didn’t know how to take a step forward. I only knew where I had come from was where I didn’t want to be. No more spreadsheets. No more pretending. No more sales targets. No more stress imposed from a job I don’t love in the very marrow of my being.

I didn’t know what I stood for in terms of tangibles; I only knew what I didn’t want. And so, I gardened. I returned to teaching. I edited. I wrote articles for a fledgling fashion-based business, duping them into thinking I was actually a fashion conscious young professional. And slowly, my professional life fell into place. I did a 30 day challenge, choosing one project and focusing on bringing it to life in thirty days. I started a women’s circle, and became overwhelmed with the old, familiar mindtrap – do they like what I’m doing? Do they like me? Am I good enough? I’m not qualified to do this. I’m not confident in what I have to offer. I’m less than. I’ve lost all desire to do it. The circle fell away, and a sense of disappointment set in; once again, I had bottled it, driven more by my deep beliefs about myself than by my heart. In the process, I learnt that I have a big impact on people, especially women – my choosing not to run a group one week left a lovely lady feeling vulnerable and abandoned, as she had turned up for the first circle two weeks prior to that and had poured her heart out into the space, making it truly sacred. I found out that another lady in the circle didn’t plan on coming again, and my confidence was shattered. I let myself draw all the conclusions and in the process, hurt another human being, someone who genuinely needed the space I was offering.

I forgive myself and move on.

Teaching English as a foreign language jumps back into my life in the form of a hectic summer school job. It ends in August, as these things do, so it’s quite a surprise to find myself teaching at a new school in October, November, December, January, February, March and April… and then returning to the first school for April to June before coming ‘home’ to Regent Brighton again in July. I realise how much I adore teaching and at the same time, how ready I am to step up, especially after running away from leading the women’s circle. I look ahead, take a breath and apply for a Masters in Applied Linguistics. I’m offered an unconditional place based on my application alone. I defer and accept a place on a hands-on, practical teaching Diploma instead. I begin teaching online. I discover Marie Forleo, and years upon years of lack of direction, confusion and inability to choose one thing for fear of missing out on something else fall away to reveal a clear, vivid vision of what I want to commit myself to. My own business: an online English language school. I start a newsletter and get great feedback. I pay a lot of money to do an online marketing course, about online marketing and running a business.

March 16th 2012

I get married. I should backtrack and say that in my twenty-ninth year, I first get a beautiful engagement ring that sets my heart alight as much as my love for the man whose existence is my reason for wearing it. Things get rocky when my goddaughter is born as the mother instinct is awoken in me, but it settles down again and the way ahead is clear – connection with my soulmate matters more to me than whether I will want a baby in a few years’ time or not. I stop trying to figure it out.

And, we get married. Our wedding is simply beautiful. Planned in a week, handled with care, rooted in love. A fabulous wedding night in the gorgeous Alexander House hotel. And a really difficult first month of marriage, but something which I think we both begin to settle into as the second month passes.

I edit a book. It is long, hard, stressful and in the end, an amazing accomplishment.

And right before my 29th birthday, I let go of sugar. My soul leaks out of my eyes on a daily basis, hot and salty. This is a dark night of the soul and one in which I meet myself. It’s decision time – live or die. I choose to live. I rescue myself, be my own saviour, my own best friend. It’s fucking difficult, but I do it.

At twenty-eight, I also start weight training and continue to ride my bike with a bit more determination, a bit more focus and a bit more skill. I enter my first sportive and struggle like crazy. I watch my friend run her first 10k and sign up for one myself. I pound out my anger on the streets of Steyning, pushing, breathing, speeding, willing myself to keep going, keep going, keep going. Don’t stop, don’t slow down. Gotta get there, got to be fast. My knees swell and hurt, reminding me that I’m not in control. I don’t run the race. I’m okay with that.

I celebrate ten years clean and sober.

I choreograph a musical (!).

With my newly betrothed, I go to Italy on our honeymoon. A week of riding carbon, climbing winding mountainous roads, eating and being with my best pal Nige. Bliss.

And July rolls around, and I turn twenty-nine.

As I look back on the last year of my life, I feel an incredible sense of happiness. I once read in a Louise Hay book the affirmation ‘All is well in my world’. This feels incredibly true for me right now. Life moves forward, and because of some internal sense that this piece wasn’t finished, I wait until September to publish this. But it’s never too late.

Today might be the first day of the rest of my life, just as it is for you, but have I really considered that it might also be the last?

One day. No, in fact, one moment: it’s really all we’ve got. So as I sit here at 5:56am, candle burning, green tea and dressing gown accompanying me, the darkness slowly lifting outside, I decide that it’s time to press publish. My reflections on being 28 are not perfect, but they’re good enough.

What is it that you would like to take the leap and give birth to, today? And will you join me in feeling the fear and saying YES to it anyway?

Love,

Elloa xx

How A Shower Changed My Life

Are you sitting comfortably?

Comfortably? Why yes, I hear you cry, and it feels rather lovely.

Well, that may not actually be a good thing.

Let me ask you this:

Do you want to be (merely) comfortable in your life?

Not thriving, passionate or living within a 100 mile radius of the Edge.

Just… comfortable. Sitting quite, quite comfortably.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? I mean, comfortable in my life means comfortable in my own skin – hell yeah! Gimme more of that.

But, hang on a minute… just plain ol’ comfortable?

Hm. I’m not so sure. Sounds rather bland, now that you mention it.

 

I’ve been reflecting. While comfortable is something I think I want, when it really comes down to it, I would rather be a million other things.

Alive, for example.

Or frustrated.

Challenged.

Stretched.

Frightened and doing it anyway.

In love.

Scintillated.

Aching from head to toe.

Breathless. Confronted. Inspired. Motivated. Alert. Moved.

Captivated.

Speechless.

But not comfortable. Or mediocre. Or just ‘fine’. Or (shudders), average.

Moody and pushed to my limits in Italy. Loving every moment – but definitely not ‘comfortable’.

Being average is one of my greatest fears, actually (all part of being a perfectionist).

And then you came along, Blog of Impossible Things, waking me from my living stupor, alerting me to the fact that life is here RIGHT NOW just waiting to be lived, tasted, touched, felt, experienced, grabbed hold of, basked in, held, caressed, stared fearlessly in the eye and, in the words of my personal trainer, grabbed by the scruff of the neck.

And grab it is exactly what I am doing.

DAY 4 of COLD SHOWER THERAPY

When I read about cold shower therapy the other day, something inside of me clicked. I knew in an instant that I had to try this thing. Showering in freezing cold water every day for 30 days? Sounds utterly crazy.

Sounds bloody amazing!

Joel’s article about how choosing to face the shower-head of fear every day provides a wonderful mirror for how you face your life, left me with no option: I had to dive in head first or else resign myself to a half-lived day/week/who knows how long. Having a history like mine, when you get the opportunity to live fully, believe me you grab it. Too many precious days have been lost to fear, self-loathing and self-destructiveness, and I find myself almost involuntarily propelled to live fully or find myself a prisoner to fear once again. A recent resurgence of binge eating has shown me the ‘life’ that my ego would have me live, and believe me, it is no life at all.

The ego or little mind promotes a fair few wares from its rickety stall:

Being right rather than being happy;

Independence;

Separateness and a sense of individual identity;

And definitely being comfortable.

This cunning, conniving monkey mind tries to convince you that being comfy is one of your life’s great missions, and I for one have drunk a fair few hundred lattes or cups of tea simply because I wanted that comforting feeling, because I couldn’t bear the ten mintue wait for a bus without something to consume, or because I felt ‘exhausted’ and ‘needed to rest’. It seems rather empty and sad to me this evening, that I have done this to myself for so much of my 29-year-old life.

No, this being comfortable lark isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Actually, on the contrary, being comfortable after facing a fear or a challenge (or something downright tough or horrible) far exceeds the experience of simply being comfortable.

A warm shower isn’t just ‘comfortable’ after a cold one – it’s sigh-inducingly blissful. A sofa isn’t just ‘comfortable’ after a 65 mile bike ride – it’s heaven. Bed isn’t just bed – it’s perfection made manifest. Living life at a cruise control temperature of ‘lukewarm but comfortable’ is NOT something I came to this planet to do.
So, on Sunday just gone, I took the plunge and welcomed the first intentional cold shower into my life.

And since then, amazing things have happened – or rather, I have stepped up and MADE amazing things happen:

– I’ve booked a holiday to Prague and Vienna for November with my dear and extremely lovely friend Lian.

– I’ve arranged to go to London on Saturday to see my beautiful, precious goddaughter and her incredible mummy and daddy.

– I’ve donated money to Pencils of Promise’s project to build schools to educate 1,000 of the 67 million children who don’t have access to education.

– I’ve taught courageously, open-heartedly and freely.

– I’ve signed up for the Brighton to Brighton 100 mile bike ride at the end of September. Gulp.

– I have kicked BUTT on my bike rides, training hard, pushing myself and being confronted with my wall again and again. I certainly am not Ironwoman but I do my best and something in me is toughening up, willing to be with the pain rather than quit as soon as it gets even a tiny bit tough and achy. I believe that this is going to pay huge dividends in my life, so much of which I have a tendency to cop out of.

– I’ve done two workouts and although I have been crap in terms of my mental strength with certain exercises, in other moments, I have worked out with the tenacity and determination of a true athlete.

– I have stayed off the crack sugar. My new mantra is “I don’t do sugar”. There is a whole book in this story, and it’s too lengthy and complicated to tell now, but let me just tell you what a victory it is to be getting through a single day sugar free.

– I’ve started to write and ponder my Impossible List and have been uplifted and inspired beyond belief by a flurry of amazing input via the interwebs, TED talks and amazing chats with husband Nige. More on this soon…
Is it possible to change your life in just four days? In times of trouble and self-sabotage, this concept feels almost impossible to me (no pun intended). Looking back on the last 96 hours, however, I can confidently say that clear, concrete ACTION in the direction of your dreams, or perhaps your impossibilities, and definitely in the direction of where your fear lies, is the number one way to smash through self-imposed limits, feel alive, and be able to put your head on the pillow at night knowing that no matter what happens, you can go to your grave one day knowing that for those few days in August 2012, while the Olympians were making history, you were writing your own story, a his-story or her-story all of your own.

Was it comfortable? Probably not.

Was it worth it?

………

You tell me. It’s your life…

Love,

Elloa xx

Leave a comment and tell me: 1. Are you up for the cold shower therapy challenge? 2. What is one action you’re going to take in the direction of your dream and/or impossibility?

I believe in us 🙂

The Real Reason for Turbulence

I wrote this post while on a plane, flying from Ancona in Italy back to the UK at the end of our honeymoon with my beloved hubbie Nige.

Know what I love about flying?

The way it makes you face death.

As Nige would say, “think about it”: You prepare for take off, and at some point (if you’re anything like me), a vision of a plane not quite managing to get off the ground pops into your head – completely uninvited of course. Even if only flashes through your mind for the briefest of moments, it is an image which nevertheless carries potency and power, instantly triggering primordial fear. Of course, your plane thunders along the runway, picking up speed and pinning you to your seat as you wash the world begin to rush by in a way that reflects day to day life in any major city, and before you know it, you’re a citizen of the sky, safe and not dead.

Then, perhaps, there is turbulence.

During turbulence, everyone tries their best to carry on as normal, reading, eating and sleeping. (Except for one time, returning from Barbados, when the turbulence was so bad that the overhead lockers opened, bags flew out and smacked people on the head and passengers left, right and centre started being sick. I prayed that day to just get the chance to see my mum one more time in my life. It was a simple request, and has thankfully been fulfilled many times over. How easily we forget what really matters.)

For frequent fliers, this carrying-on-as-normal is very easy to do; the turbulence is just an inconvenience in the way that potholes are on an oft-travelled road. For air stewards and stewardesses, it’s so normal that they practically dare it to even try and interrupt their daily routine of serving tea, selling bottles of perfume and maneuvering up and down the aisle with that compact little trolley that, to my childlike imagination, contains drawers and compartments full of magic.

But as unfazed and calm as we all try to be, engaging in some kind of unspoken, silent contract that we will not panic, for many fliers the unnerving bump-bump of the plane as it jars against the atmosphere reminds you of that buried fear that sits patiently just below your everyday chattering mind: the suddenly tangible fear of death.

Or perhaps of dying – the act or process of meeting the end of your life.

With Nige beside me, I feel safer; it would be alright to die by his side. Something about our companionship makes me less afraid to die. I realise something as we bump along, my eyes closed, head resting against the surprisingly comfortable blue economy headrest. My heart flutters a little, and not from the turbulence, but from the beauty of the image that my mind conjures. And what I realise is this:

Thousands of thousands of prayers almost certainly get uttered in people’s minds every single day by air passengers experiencing turbulence. Each of those prayers is unique, as similar as they may seem, in the way that snowflakes are unique, each with their own genetic DNA.

During turbulence, life’s extremely delicate balancing act is thrust, unwelcomed but inevitably, into your mind. And silently but collectively, God is summoned.Please God, let us live. Let me see my family again. Please let us be safe. Let us get there OK. Oh, God, that felt scary. Please, let us be safe.

I have this beautiful image in my mind of thousands of prayers being strewn across the sky every single day as planes take people all around the world.

I picture these prayers bursting forth in a moment of pure vulnerability, streaking across the sky, trailing behind the plane that carries them, each one leaving a unique trail in a unique colours. Pinks and blues, yellows and greens, purples and reds, cerises and magentas, aquas and pastels and brights. trailing like ribbons behind the plane that carries life from one country to another.

Daily contact with the divine. Daily connection to what really matters in life, if only for a split second and shrouded by a denial of the fear of death. A prayer-streaked sky above us, every single day that air travel continues to exist.

Perhaps that’s why God made some people afraid of flying – so that when they find the courage to fly, Love would be called upon, too.

Perhaps that’s why God invented turbulence.