What's happened over the past couple of years?

What's happened over the past couple of years?
Come and find out about our life-changing work!
Update April 2018: It's been a while my friends - and such a lot has happened since I was last active here!

When it finally dawned on me that I had been systematically abused - and not just by one person - my whole world collapsed around me.

You see, I had always believed myself to be a strong person. Capable. Successful and somewhat sassy to boot. A fighter. Someone who could overcome any challenge, as I'd proven to myself since early childhood, time and time again. So the knockout thud of recognition that I had been a 'victim' hit me with the full force of a steam train, tsunami and earthquake rolled into one.

"How could that have happened to me? How did I let it happen? Why didn't I notice it? Why didn't I stop it, or at least speak out?"
...and then came an all engulfing darkness of shame. And then the deafening silence.

It took me years to come out of that place. Years of hard work, self reflection and excruciating pain.

Which was how, ultimately, Light Up was finally born.

Now this work is being experienced and shared by many - and is growing in numbers and momentum. And I am grateful.

Grateful not only for my own experiences, also for the fact that Light Up gives people the tools to escape from their shame and pain in far less time than it took me!

We are already working with trafficked women, abused children and traumatised adults, successfully guiding them back to completeness (without having to relive their horrors) in as little as two sessions.

People are waking up and finding their voices. I am a firm supporter of the #metoo movement, and every other group that sheds light on and offers a platform for people to speak out and seek a complete way of living.

Yes, there is darkness in this world. Yes, there is much that has been hidden away. And yes, now people are speaking out. Thank goodness for those voices! The quiet ones. The angry ones. The sad ones. The loud ones. All have their place. All have their unique message to share. All are warriors.

I am honoured to be in service, and to play my part in reigniting this beautiful world of ours. We are coming together now. We are gathering force. And I am glad.

Fellow warriors, I salute you. I commit to continuing to stand in this arena alongside all my brothers and sisters who know there is a better way and a brighter future.

Come and find out more www.dnalightup.net

In continued love, recognition and gratitude

Mel xxx

Sunday, 27 June 2010

It Doesn't Get Much Better Than This!

Yesterday afternoon found me in Sussex, paddling in the sea, finishing off a 99 Whippy ice cream with a very dear childhood friend I had lost touch with a number of years earlier. We’ve recently found each other through Facebook, and since then we’ve chatted online, written on each others walls, and exchanged messages. But yesterday was the first time we’d actually seen each other in the flesh for an unbelievable 20 years!

Craig and his wife are now not only parents to three grown up children, but also have two grandchildren as well.“How on earth did all that happen?” I asked as we effortlessly slotted back in to the warm and open friendship we had always shared. "I think it's called breeding" he replied, giggling and teasing me just as he used to in the olden days.

I first met Craig with my friend Tanya, back at the beginning of 1981. I remember the date because it was the first time that she’d come over from her home in Australia. Tanya, you’ll remember, had been my best friend since we met on the first day of my new school when we were just nine years old. Both of us were naturally talented artists, and before our first encounter we had always been used to being top of our respective classes during art lessons.

So on that first day at school, when the rather prim Miss Smythe announced we were to have an art lesson in the afternoon, I felt quietly confident that I could win some approval from my new classmates. I remember painting a marine scene, including ships, seagulls and the most tranquil of seas. It wasn’t my best, but I decided I was still getting a pretty good result and it was certainly better than the rest of my table. So I breathed a sigh of relief. I was alright then – my art would still be able to carry me through.

As I started to relax and allow a smile to work its way across my face, Tessa, a very tall gangly girl with over-sized gapped teeth and long wiry hair worn in long plaits to cover her ears, put her paintbrush down and tutted at me. “Tanya won’t be happy about that!” she’d said, causing me to prick up my ears and stop in my tracks. “Why not? And who’s Tanya?” I’d responded as Tessa looked past my shoulder and nodded.

I turned around to see a strikingly beautiful girl edging her way towards me. Her long brown hair was tied back in a high ponytail, accentuating her huge brown eyes and delicate features. She held her paintbrush in her hand and her head cocked to one side, one eyebrow raised as she looked me up and down. Circling each other like sharks, she finally moved to face me and gave a sideways glance at my work. “Hmmm…” she sniffed “It’s alright I suppose” her polite smile flashing a set of perfect white teeth before she flouced back to her table, flicking her ponytail and straightening her shirt on the way.

This was all being watched, of course, by the rest of the class. So I put down my paintbrush and went straight over to her table. “Let’s have a look at yours then!” I’d said, wearing my best smile. I’ve always found directness is the best approach, even when I’ve been scared. Her painting was very good – I was impressed, this could be fun! The fact was that I’d never found anyone who could match or challenge me at art, so that in fact I often felt embarrassed by my natural talent and would sometimes deliberately paint to less than my ability. So I saw that Tanya’s unquestionable skill could be a good thing for both of us. “It’s really good!” I’d said. And then added “Do you know I’ve already been learning French for a whole year – we started earlier in my old school” before giving another smile and turning back to my table.

That seemed to do the job. She smiled, nodded, and this was to mark the beginning of a deep friendship that survived her family’s emigration to Australia some five years later and eventually spanned nearly three decades until her untimely death.

So it was in January 1981 that she was staying with me in Sussex. We were both 16 by then, and were beginning to make the move from girls to women. Well, in truth, I was struggling with the transition while Tanya had embraced it wholeheartedly. She was already sophisticated and ladylike, while I on the other hand, was much more of a tomboy and certainly wasn’t very interested in boys! “Oh come on!”she’d implored one Saturday morning “You can’t look like a scarecrow all your life! Make yourself look pretty and let’s go out!”

So just a short while later there we were, dressed up, made up and looking cool, doing our very best posing by the swings at the local park. Two of the local lads seemed to take an interest and came up to chat with us. You'd be totally forgiven for assuming that we'd respond and engage them in conversation. But no. Not us. We were FAR too cool (and, I must admit, a little afraid!) to just have a straightforward conversation. We had our own code language, you see, which we'd use to share secrets in company without the need to whisper. So we started speaking in code, peppering the conversation with a few deliberately mis-pronounced English words, and had the boys believe that we came from Sweden. We even introduced ourselves using false names - Tanya was Bo and I was Jo - and we arranged to meet them the following evening. It was only once the arrangement had been made that we admitted to the boys that we'd been having a joke, and invited them to join us for a picnic to make amends. 

Well, Craig was one of those boys. Kind, genuine and amused rather than offended by our teasing, we all instantly became friends and started to hang around together at every opportunity. We'd regularly meet up in our local pub, The Castle, where we'd sup on orange juice, learn how to play pool and jostle for attention and acceptance among our peer group.

Just three short weeks after that first meeting my mum died very suddenly. I was left an orphan and my life was changed for ever. We had to move out of our home to live with our guardians. Out of our home and 11 miles away from the thriving village community I'd only just discovered. And so Craig became part of the rich and colourful gang of friends who supported me and helped me through the next few difficult days, weeks, months and also years. 

So, you see, we've seen a lot together,  Craig and I. We decided early on that we should always stay as brother and sister, and to never ever be anything more than that, so that we could preserve our friendship and make it last for ever. And so that's the way it was. We could confide in each other about  anything at all, and would spend hours discussing life and philosophy. His family also accepted me with open arms and, a couple of years in to our friendship, when my little sister and I were suddenly thrown out of our guardians' house less than a month after my eighteenth birthday, Craig was one of those who offered to have me come and live with his family. 

The years went by, and life, careers and marriage got in the way, and slowly, somehow, he and I drifted apart. There was no specific occasion. Nothing happened. It was just one of those things that perhaps we took for granted. Something that can then fade away so slowly you don't even notice until it's too late. 

So to find each other again after so many years was just magical! Making up for lost time, and remembering the innocent fun times we used to enjoy all those years ago, our first call was to hire a motorised pedalo at the seaside boating pond. Roaring with laughter as we scudded across the water I felt the years, fears and tears all melt away. The simple harmless joy of two adults behaving like children took centre stage from the unwelcome stresses and strains that have been my constant companions of late. 

And so it was that we found ourselves, two middle aged people, fully clothed and up to our knees in the sea, eating our ice creams and engaged in animated conversations liberally peppered with guffaws and snorting laughter - much to the amusement of the swarm of children who continued to splash about and climb the rocks around us.

We shared our stories, our ups as well as our downs, and marveled at the similarly parallel paths our lives had taken. I'd forgotten just how much I used to enjoy Craig's company, and how I'd always appreciated his straight forward approach and simple words of wisdom. Experience has taught us both many things, and at certain times could have crippled either of us it would seem - yet the essence of who we were back then has remained. I choose to explore things deeply and in my own way so I can learn and develop through difficult situations. Craig puts it this way:

"Life's like this I reckon. You can wake up in the morning, see a beautiful flower and smile. Then spend the next few hours analysing how it came to be, and thereby ruin the rest of your day. It's not difficult is it? I find moments when I can sit back, enjoy the moment, and say to myself - 'it doesn't get much better than this!' - and that's all there is to it!"

On the way back, we decided to drop in to The Castle, the pub we all used to frequent during our teenage years and early twenties. We sat in the back garden nursing our drinks, and once again sharing memories and updating each other with stories about the people we used to know back then. We covered happy, sad, uplifting, poignant and downright tragic accounts of what had happened to members of the old village gang.

"Like I said, life's pretty straightforward really" said Craig, after an amusing but sad anecdote about one of the lads who at the time we all thought was the coolest dude in the area "I know that success isn't about the money anymore. I don't know exactly what it IS about, but I do know it's about feeling happy" 

We left the pub and as we got back into his van Craig suddenly made an announcement. 

"Mel, you KNOW you're on the right track and everyone else knows you CAN do this - the only person left to properly convince is yourself"

I smiled, tears of gratitude pricking my eyes as I squeezed my old friend's shoulder while we drove away from The Castle. 

"Hey, you know what?" I thought to myself "It doesn't get much better than this!"

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Welcome Home

New welcome mat from my parentsIt’s started. It’s happening now. I’ve woken up this morning with Peters and Lee and an entire gospel chorus in my head singing “Welcome home, welcome, come on in and close the door" (well, it’s a welcome change to those flaming Munchkins and Dorothy’s motley crew, I can tell you!)
Since Sunday, you see, I’ve had the most uncomfortable pain in my guts. Never had anything like it before. In fact, I always pride myself in having the constitution of an ox – now where on earth does that saying come from eh? But no, I’ve had a twisting, pushing, tightening most unpleasant feeling going on as though I have something stuck in my stomach. Just below my ribcage, above my naval - undigested food perhaps, or trapped wind (well, yes, there are those who would say I'm full of hot air!) 

But I've decided it's something else. And yup, for anyone remotely familiar with the chakras, all this is happening around my Solar Plexus Chakra, which governs personal power, ego, physical energy and self-identity. Aahhh... self-identity indeed.... well - no surprises there then eh? 

The colour associated with it is yellow (very Top Banana) and the suggested meditation to clear and open this particular chakra is to visualise a yellow orb filling the area with healing yellow light (just exactly as the business is growing and attracting more clients).... hhhmmmm..... perhaps there are indeed methods in these madnesses I've been experiencing over the past couple of weeks?

Something weird happened on Monday you see, another quite extraordinary coincidence. And I'm getting the message loud and clear that I am indeed guided and supported in life - and that there's a far bigger story going on than I could ever begin to imagine. 

Because on Monday I received an email out of the blue from someone I met seven years ago when I was in Australia for my friend's wedding (her sister was Tanya, my best friend from childhood who had died a couple of years earlier). I was only there for a few days, and whilst there I met Dave, their cousin, who'd flown over from the UK as a surprise to the family. It was at the time when I was trying to settle in to our new life in France and still reeling from Cam's first betrayals. Dave seemed to be experiencing similar challenges at the time, and very quickly he and I just clicked. We were only there together for a couple of days, but we took every possible opportunity to chat, often through to the wee small hours, sharing our confusion in the hope we could both make some sense of our parallel circumstances. It was a magical and cathartic experience in a time of great uncertainty, and I know that both of us felt a positive connection. 

We emailed a couple of times after that, but we both had our own lives to lead. Cam was also a very jealous person, and any contact from an unknown male was not tolerated - the irony is not lost on me, although I now recognise it as typically controlling behaviour in an abusive relationship. So, while there was nothing to hide, it seemed easier just to let things drift. And that's the way things stayed. Until Monday. 

The email was titled "Simply Hi" and it appears Dave had decided to clear out some old connections on a business website, following an email prompt at the weekend. Something which, he added, he would normally have just deleted - but for some reason he didn't. I responded, and a few emails later we'd arranged to meet up for dinner the following day (last night). The coincidences here are really quite uncanny:
  • Dave lives very close to the airport I was flying in to - one I never normally use. 
  • I'd mistakenly booked my flight a day early, meaning that I had a free evening
  • Tanya's parents (his aunt and uncle) are over from Australia for the first time in four years and both of us are due to see them in the next week or so
  • Plus, of course, the original fact that he didn't just automatically delete the reminder email in the first place
So at 7pm we met at the hotel reception and drove out for dinner in a country pub - both of us commenting on the peculiar set of circumstances that had led us to this point. And you know what? Those seven years just melted away and we chatted away and laughed together like old friends - even though we've both experienced major changes since Australia. Like me, Dave was no longer with his then partner. It was a few years ago and he's now much happier and in a healthy relationship with a lady who looks very beautiful in the photographs he showed me. He seems younger, fitter, settled and much more confident than how I remembered him. He explained how so much had changed for him, and told me all about the way he now lives his life. He just oozed an air of contentment and I was delighted to see my old friend so happy in his own skin. It gave me hope that I, too, can one day find the same level of happiness.

And more than that, I learned a lot more last night. Because I felt safe chatting with him. So I knew I could share anything and he would not judge or criticise. And I allowed myself to accept his compliments and reassurances. My barriers now gone, as you know, it actually felt good to share what's happening, together with my deepest expressions of hope - and doubt - at the transformations I'm experiencing in my life. It was OK to say that I'm feeling really tired. It was OK as well to say that in another way I'm energised as a new (or, actually, very old and forgotten) part of me comes to life. It was OK to explain there are still many battles to face, and also OK to express my delight at the way my life is coming in to shape. It was OK as well to confess that, while I'm scared about all sorts of things I'm putting in to place with the business right now, I'm also confident that the service I'll be delivering will be countless times better than the stuff I used to do before. It was also OK to say that right now I feel like curling up for a while and allowing myself to be looked after. To be nurtured and spoiled by someone. To give up the fight and just let go for a while. Perhaps I can do that next week when I get back home?

You see, last night I didn't have to protect myself. I didn't have to impress. I wasn't on show. I could speak freely and truthfully. I could express my fears, as well as my hopes - and the achievements I'm proud of, without sounding boastful.  For here in front of me was a man without an agenda. A man who just cared and who was prepared to listen. A man I met briefly and connected with all those years ago and who now, I'm certain, will remain a close friend and ally perhaps for the rest of my life.

And I truly feel that the inner battle is now subsiding, and that gentleness is taking it's place. This morning the pain in my guts has released. I'm feeling centered once again. I'm sensing a new expression building within me - an energy that is opening my heart and pumping life through my veins. It's as though the old shell, the fortress I had built is finally crumbling, and even the foundations are shifting. The tiredness and exhaustion came from resistance - because that castle took a long long time to build and it sure didn't want to be moved. But now it's happening. And in it's place the green shoots of a new paradise are forming. 

In my mind's eye I can see the green meadows ahead of me. I can smell the blossom on the trees. I can feel the sun on my back and the wind in my hair as I run barefoot through my new home. I am finding my freedom at last. I am free to be me. 

The fortress was very cleverly constructed, you see, although it's only now that I can appreciate that fact. For it was designed so that I could watch through the windows and learn the harsh lessons of life from a position of safety. It meant I could protect myself from lasting harm - the ever-increasing barriers and growing army of soldiers made sure of that. And as I learned and watched, I grew. But I grew safely. Warm and secure in my own castle. 

But now I know. Now I'm ready. I no longer need the protection of my castle nor of my armies, for I am well equipped myself. 

But you know what? I have no need to fight anymore. For what I have now, that no castle or army of soldiers could ever have, is pure love in my heart, trust in my soul and hope in my spirit. A deep and innocent love that was locked away so many years ago. One that, perhaps, would have remained locked away had I not experienced the past few months - once again, I thank you Cam for creating this opportunity. It would appear that your betrayal and deception have served me well.

The castle has gone. The little girl is free. She may stumble and fall along the way, but she'll get right back up again and she's gonna have so much fun along the way!

You know what? Top Banana and Mel Carnegie were pretty damned good back then - but as for now... well... just hold on to your hats cos the adventure hasn't even started yet!

Mel is dead. Long live Mel. "You've been gone, too long, welcome, you're home once more!" 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, 19 June 2010

The Mouse That Squeaked

...because I sure don't feel like roaring. I'm scared, you see. Don't get me wrong... I'm not scared of what's happened - nor of the battles I know are ahead of me or the constant waves of challenges that face me on a daily basis.

No - I'm not afraid of those, because I've faced things like that before. You see I know how to deal with them. I know how to be. I know how to act. I know what's expected. I know how to get through. So no, I'm not afraid of those.

But there is something else that is building. Something else that is gathering strength. Becoming real. Demanding attention. Developing an identity. Something I have ignored - or perhaps been all too acutely aware of - for longer than I care to remember.

And now this thing. This energy. This entity (is it any wonder I was so terrified at the film Poltergeist for goodness sake?) seems now to be demanding space. It's gathering form. Sound. Expression. And suddenly, those around me are echoing its very essence. Which frightens me. Because it tells me that this internal fear... this hidden doppelganger... this hideous nightmare that lives within me is about to be exposed and exorcised.

Bloody hell. I am about to be in the position where I HAVE to face my fears - whatever they might be. And you know what? I KNOW what they are. Perhaps we all do. I don't know. I DO know, however, that with each passing experience. Each month. Each year. Each day. Each living moment... I know I'm moving closer to freedom I've craved for so long. And I also know that this particular fear is the one that's most debilitating.

Because I've discovered through this long journey, that the one thing that I have allowed to hold me back, the one fear that I've so far failed to overcome, the one thing that I'm actually afraid of.... is.... me!

I've realised I've spent so many years protecting myself - starting with the first time my world shattered when I was just four years old and gaining more and more strength with each additional body-blow, that I've forgotten who the real Melanie is. And over the past year or so as each of my barriers have been falling down (well, annihilated would be a more accurate description - with a full demolition gang and explosives in actual fact) well then the real me has been getting closer and closer to the surface. And I'm now at the point of no return, because the little vulnerable me that has been buried away for so long will no longer be ignored. It's her time now. She's gaining strength and is demanding to be noticed.

And I'm scared. Because I don't know who she is. I don't even know whether I'll like her. I don't know whether she'll like ME either. And I don't know how she's going to impact on my life, and what new changes it will mean. Because surely this is indeed the herald of yet more change.

I had built her a castle you see. A fortress. To keep her safe and protect her from harm. I trained the best soldiers to fight for her, and dug the deepest widest moat to keep harm away. And it worked very well. People admired the strength and beauty of the castle I'd built - it's served me well and I've been perfecting it for over 40 years. But now it's crumbling, and now the princess, my precious little girl who lives inside, wants to come out and live in the real world. And I cannot stop her - and I'm scared.

I'm scared in case she's not ready. In case it's too soon. In case she gets hurt - or worse. How will she survive?

I'm scared because I think she may feel I've abandoned her. That I've betrayed her trust. I worry that although I locked her away so long ago for her own safety, she might be very angry with me. She might be furious in fact! Do you think she'll ever forgive me? I don't know...

And I don't know how to welcome her either. I don't know how to let her in - or let her out. And I don't know where to turn. I just know that the increasing restlessness within my soul, the physical churning in my stomach and the constant electrical fizzing in my mind means that the time is near when I can no longer put off the inevitable.

My friends know what's happening - I can sense it in the way they're responding to me. The little nudges forward, the reassurances that I'm on the right track, together with the exploration of new connections - deepening of existing friendships and the influx of new ones. They are all guiding me forwards. For they are now my army of soldiers.

So now I must give up my castle. I must walk forwards, move free from the rubble and trust that this new world is ready for me.

I'm scared. But I'm doing it. Please catch me if I fall.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Bedknobs, Broomsticks And Bambi

Bambi (character)

(I wrote this as I was waiting in the airport before catching my flight to the UK)

It’s been one of those weeks where I’ve felt emotionally and physically exhausted. Drained. Nothing left. My last post might perhaps have given some small clues as to my state of mind – imaginary Munchkins, Wizards and Tin Men have all been ‘the norm’ in my daily life of late. Popping up at the most peculiar moments, reminding me that perhaps I haven’t got everything sorted – that all may not be as it seems.  They seem to be goading me to reassess my decisions. To check my chosen pathway, as well as the method by which I am travelling along my very own yellow brick road.

Just the other morning, for example, as I absent-mindedly opened the fridge to look for the sugar (yup, I told you I am tired!) I was greeted by Dorothy’s mocking Scarecrow, his head tilted to one side and finger-waggling “Hmmm… intelligence, it would seem, comes in all forms. So do you REALLY think your brain’s working properly, Mel? Do you really think you’re capable of running a successful business?”

And then a few hours later, screeching in shock as an enormous spider scuttled from a crack in the stone wall and over my desk to trap a fluttering moth, I heard the Lion right behind me “Put em up! Put em up! I can fight it with both hands behind my back! You think you’ve done it all, do you? We’ve only just begun, Mel – so where’s your metal?”  I might have made it through the past year and a bit and now the business is really taking off – but do I REALLY have the strength to keep my cool… to see things through… to really succeed and live the life of my dreams?

And as for having a heart… well… I’ve even had times when I’ve doubted that as well over the past few days. “Let go!” “Let it be!” “Trust!” “You DO deserve the best!” have all been the kindly reassurances from friends and family who know the ridiculous emotional turmoil I’ve created for myself at the moment, through nothing at all but my own vivid imagination. “So you think they’re all going to be the same do you? Perhaps you need to open your heart to find the good again before you blind yourself forever and never recover” says the Tim Man, a tear forming in his eye as he contemplates my plight.

And all the time those bloody Munchkins are reminding me that there’s no way back. That I have to continue. That there’s light at the end of the tunnel.  That I’ve started so I must finish – and all those other glib clich├ęs that at times, frankly, really piss me off!

Because for the past few days, wherever I’ve gone, whatever I’ve done, I’ve been struggling to find peace. The Harpies of last year seem to have been circling again. The thunder has been rumbling in the background. And the air has been hanging heavy with the invisible threat of danger. And so the self-torture has gone on. And on. And on.

And you know what? I’ve KNOWN that I’m doing it. And I’ve also known that I’ve been doing iteven as things are continuing to get better! I’ve been slapping down my successes, questioning their validity and doubting my achievements! How utterly crazy is that?

Last year I could easily have forgiven myself for sleepless nights and a crazy haze of despair. After all, I had real-life battles to fight. I had to survive. Fight my way through an ever increasing set of threats to my very existence. So yes, it would have been perfectly OK to feel this way – then. But now I've made it through - I've survived. And that’s the point. It would have been OK then, but it’s NOT OK now. How very dare I feel this way now?

Ha. And there it is. The self-critical button. The key that sets the cycle off once again.

Because, real or not, the battles I’m now facing are inner battles. Inner questions based on the massive progress I’ve made. The ‘gap’ if you like between what I’ve achieved through pushing on regardless, and the truth of a depleted self-worth that questions whether I will actually be able to carry it off. See it through. Deliver on promises. Or will I fall and let everyone down and, therefore, prove my critics right?

Is this what it’s like to suffer from post traumatic stress disorder? I don’t know. But I do know that whatever it is, it’s really quite debilitating – far more so than the real battles I’ve faced and won. Because now the enemies are invisible. Now the threats are in my imagination. They taunt me in my sleep. They creep inside my head. They make my skin itch and my tummy turn somersaults.

And I’ve had enough. So today I’ve changed. Today I’ve stated my boundaries. Today I’ve said “STOP!” And I’ve meant it.

Driving to the airport I’ve been listening to some old tracks by Joni Mitchell. When I drove away from the village (leaving Dylan at home and in charge with just the pets for company – a whole new level of trust and maturity for both of us, I can tell you!) it was raining. But as I continued north on the motorway, singing along with Joni about a Big Yellow Taxi, the skies started to clear and the sun came through.“Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone” we sang, as the cars whooshed and skated over the rain drenched road, throwing up rainbows in front of me. 

I looked up to the blue sky and noticed a cloud formation that almost stopped me in my tracks.  Of course it was totally subjective, but to me, the clouds were making the shape of a huge kneeling fawn – right there in front of me.  It was facing sideways, a huge watchful eye shaped by a hole in the formation through which shone a patch of bright blue sky – clear, strong and most certainly intending me to take notice.

Instantly I was transported back in time to my childhood. Back with both my parents, in the home I loved, basking in the safety of the love and warmth of my family.  You see, when I was a small child, I had a small china Bambi ornament. And I believed that this ornament was magic. I would explain to mum and dad (and anyone else who cared to listen) that it could move of it’s own accord – if only we all shut our eyes and believed it to be true. I would demonstrate this as often as possible, carefully placing my Bambi in the middle of the room and urging everyone to cover their eyes. After a count of 10 – sometimes 20 – we would all open our eyes and the Bambi would have disappeared. It was magic!

We would all then search for it, for it would always have found a hiding place. I remember the look of love and indulgence that my Mum and Dad would give me  – of course they were behind the “magic” all the time, but to me it was totally real.

One day Bambi went missing. I was convinced it had gone and hidden of it’s own accord, but Mum kept telling me that this time, perhaps, it had gone for good. I would not believe it, and explained my certainty that it would turn up. “Oh, Melanie” she’d say  “you are always such an optimist!”  I was quite intrigued by that – I wasn’t sure what it meant, but I was pretty sure it was something quite important!

And sure enough, one day, I found my Bambi buried in the gravel on the driveway. Perfectly unharmed. Perfectly whole. And perfectly magic. Triumphant, I took it in to show Mum “Look! Look! I told you Bambi would come back! You see, the magic IS real!”

And today, just by seeing the deer in the cloud formation, I was immediately showered with the same feelings of love, safety and warmth that I remember as a small child before everything changed. Today I felt that love all over again. Today, it’s clear to me that the magic is alive and well.

Because it never had anything to do with either Bambi or my parents’ well-intentioned interventions. No. The real magic was the love that I felt. And today I feel it again. The same today as it was then. I’d just forgotten it, that’s all.

But the love, the magic, exists beyond time and reason – and now that I’m letting it in again, well the magic can begin again. Away with the thought demons, the magic of love is alive and well – and back in my life for good this time.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, 7 June 2010

There's No Place Like Home

Right at this moment, Dorothy's famous chant is echoing in my head - together with a whole heap of recognitions and a flood of emotions. Surprising ones. Strong ones. Some that a few months ago I would have labelled 'negative' and others that I choose now to label 'liberating'.

The road to Oz is indeed a strange journey fraught with surprises, dangers, reality-checks and realisations along the way. My yellow brick road is still winding out in front of me - still beckoning, inviting, and even daring me to continue. And continue I will for there is no going back. But at this particular moment in time it seems to me that I have a little bit of the Lion, Tin Man and Scarecrow not as companions, but rather within me - as a part of me.

The Lion thinks he's a coward - and while I certainly don't apply that name to myself, there are times when my courage sometimes seems to have walked away. Or, at least have taken a back seat. Then there's the Scarecrow who calls himself stupid. OK, I don't exactly call myself stupid. But I do sometimes find myself doing stupid things, quite often as a direct result of my courage or the "push the limit" part of my nature. Danger, sometimes, holds an almost irresistible pull. In my old life I would have gone there without a thought. In my real life (life since Cam) I believe I'm much more aware of what I'm doing, and apply plenty of questions, rules and rationales before making a decision. "And anyway" I remind myself, "I know what I'm doing - this is a perfectly conscious decision, so all is well!"

You know what, though? Sometimes it isn't all well. Most times there's no need to even consider pushing limits in the first place. And this is where my Tin Man takes shape. He believed he didn't have a heart. Well, sometimes I wonder whether my heart is actually functioning properly. Yes I love with depth and with passion. Yes I nurture with honestly and openness. Yes I listen with interest and compassion. So yes, it's there - I clearly have the capacity to feel. But the automatic response for these positive feelings seems to be exclusively reserved for other people. Because sometimes there seems to be a lack of love respect and understanding for myself - it's tons better than it was but it's not yet automatic.

And the Scarecrow? Well... he's a funny one. More elusive than the rest in many ways. I trust my brainpower. I believe in my ability to solve problems, find solutions, learn new information and communicate all of this effectively. So it seems that the Scarecrow is perhaps my friend. And yet... there are times when I absolutely prove to myself that I really should not be allowed out on my own. I forget directions. I read information incorrectly. In fact just last week I boldly knocked at a strangers door believing it to be the same place I visited just a couple of weeks earlier - and when they said they hadn't heard of the person I was looking for, I honestly thought they were joking with me!

So the Scarecrow's fears seem to creep up just when I'm least expecting them. And perhaps... perhaps... it's my intelligence I'm pushing to the limit. Perhaps it's my thinking ability I'm choosing to test, because at a core level it's a quality I'm pretty confident about. And then... and then... just by stating that peculiarly unique way of thinking out loud, surely it actually demonstrates the warped workings of my brain....? I think I'm not the only one, though - remember Furniture's song I Must Be Out Of My Brilliant Mind?

And through all of this those Munchkins continue to mock me. "Follow the yellow brick road!" they taunt from below knee-level. Their gaudy costumes, grimaces masquerading as smiles, and sing song voices that tease and cajole creating a primal fear within me that warns me to pull away.  A sudden memory of Mia Farrow in Rosemary's Baby tells me to stop. Take stock. Trust my instincts. The brain's trying to tell me something!

But no. Because I think I'm lacking in courage I carry on regardless. Because I think I'm lacking in compassion I forgive my tormentors their hideous appearances and instead choose to look for the message they're bringing. And so I carry on even though my instincts and compassion tell me I really don't need to be doing this - and in the process I manage to prove to myself that I am indeed lacking something "up top". I'm not the full picnic. The lights are on but there's no-one there. Pah! The Wicked Witch of The West is clearly still working her magic - or perhaps Derren Brown just tricked us in to believing she was squashed by the falling house? Did we imagine the whole thing....?

Damn those bloody little people! There IS no Wizard of Oz - there never ever has been! I just need to recognise my bravery and stick with my instinctive thoughts. I need to trust my ability to love, and turn it on myself - and lovingly keep myself away from danger and flourish in safety. And I need to trust my own intelligence. I AM good at what I do. I AM on the right track. I AM moving in to the life of my dreams.

So how come I continue to test myself? How come I continue to place myself in the line of fire? And how come, when things really are coming together, I allow the chants of those bloody annoying small people to goad me and knock my belief? Those god-damned little Munchkins are now jigging up and down with glee - their voices louder, their grimaces wider. Thriving on my critical self-analysis. Questions, Mel, think of the questions you're asking yourself... be gentle, be caring, and remember the magic affirmation "There's no place like home!"

There's no need to click your heels my girl - you're already here... just KNOW it and stop testing yourself OK?

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Fire And The Flames Of Truth

Just flames
What a weekend - quite extraordinary in fact! Who’d have imagined just how many riches could be unearthed in a remote old village school in rural north-east England over just a few short hours.

I qualified as a Firewalk Instructor in August 1998. That was the very course where I met and fell in love with my now estranged husband. So it makes sense that Firewalking and all that is associated with the practice - and my own experiences - has played a major role in the magical and often twisted theatre of my own existence to this point. The fire, with all its beauty and symbolism, has held a special place in my heart for as long as I can remember – not least, perhaps, because I was born under Sagittarius, one of the three fire signs of the zodiac.  I’m regularly reminded that I typify most of the traits: gregarious, optimistic, energetic, driven – as well as outspoken, sometimes brash, and regularly ridiculously clumsy.

Such is the importance of the fire to me that I even have a small tattoo at the base of my spine. It’s a red and orange heart with a flame just above it to symbolise heart fire. It’s very discreet, and only a few people have seen it – but to me it’s an important statement about the power of love and the passion of the fire. To me the fire is a living breathing thing that can both cleanse and empower the soul.

Saturday night was to be my first Firewalk since the start of my "real life" (the new space I’m creating for myself after discovering that my marriage was a sham) and so it was already weighted with an unspoken promise of transformation. But I didn't let that sway me - not too much in any case!

The location was a disused primary school in the process of being turned in to an outdoor centre. The building itself seemed to whisper echoes from the years of learning and growing that had taken place there many years previously. The laughter of children, the smell of school books and leather satchels, the wordly smiles of their teachers and the promise and wonder of their whole lives stretching ahead of them. As I walked around the place, most of it now either renovated or still in the process, I couldn't help but wonder what might have happened to the pupils who must have spent so much time here. How many of them had fulfilled their dreams? How many had achieved even more than they expected? And how many had fallen by the wayside?

I knew it was the perfect location for a Firewalk workshop. It's stones had surely experienced so many human transformations before we came along that I felt certain the building would be supporting us that evening. It may seem an odd thing to say, but to me it almost felt as though the old school had been waiting for us. And I felt entirely at home.

People started to arrive just after 5pm, and soon the main hall was filled with chatter and laughter - together with a sense of uncertainty that was without doubt stronger in some more than others! This particular workshop was to be led by Simon Treselyan, a master firewalk instructor, and one of only two people in the world certified by Peggy Dylan to train other instructors.

Simon and I have a long history stretching back twelve years to the time when we first met. We'd discussed working together at that point, but it wasn't to be because he didn't get on with Cam (perhaps another one of those many red-flag signs I failed to acknowledge at the time?) After more than a decade our time had come, and Simon was finally here in the UK from Australia so that we could run this workshop together. So it was bound to be a great experience.

My role on this particular event was to tend the fire and offer support to the first-time walkers - and it suited me perfectly. It gave me the opportunity to sit back from the event, to let someone else take control, and to allow myself to experience the evening without judgement or expectation.

The group consisted of a network built from friends and fellow Top Bananas, each person having arrived by different routes, and each with their individual personal goals - but every one of us tied by the common intention of growth and transformation. For me, for the first time since I'd first learned to Firewalk, I took the workshop as an opportunity to achieve something personal for me - yes, to be there to support others as usual of course, but also to consciously create something for me. For Mel the person, rather than Mel the Firewalk Instructor, Coach and Motivator. For me, this was personal now. So much of my life up until then had already been affected by my first firewalking experience, this was now my opportunity to move up still another level in my real life.

As is traditional, before the workshop even started we all stated our intention, or if you like our goal for the workshop. The fire - along with many other transformation tools - is a flexible, obedient, and directly reflecting medium that offers you whatever you ask for, and will deliver whatever you expect you can receive. So I thought carefully about what I wanted to achieve, and when it was my turn to speak I made my statement: "To find a new power in my life, by re-connecting with more of my own personal power, which is going to carry me and Top Banana through to greater things"

The workshop got underway and we all helped to transport the logs and build the fire - placing the logs with intention, and then lighting the fire from just one single flame. Then as the others went in to continue with discussions, activities, explorations and discoveries, I stayed by the fire and tended the flames.

This was the first time in eight years that I had been Fire Master for such an event. Normally I have been up there co-running the workshop. Building up the energy, introducing the exercises, and guiding people through the process. But eight years ago I was Fire Master. And eight years ago had been another time of massive transformation, when I found myself in a viper's pit as a result of Cam's behaviour. So, yes, Saturday evening was a huge event for me - on more levels than I can even begin to explain here. Suffice it to say it was big. Very big. And very important.

So I walked around the fire, and looked after the flames for the next three hours. I talked to her (it had become a 'she' by this stage) and I could feel her listening and responding to me. I shared with her my fears. My frustrations. My battles. My hopes. My history. My questions. My confusion, and my understanding. And she listened. And she took them on board. And we danced together - the smoke curling around me as I guided another stray log back on to the fire, the colours of the flames changing from orange to red to blue as the temperature changed, the crackling turning to a roar and then back to a gentle rythmic breathing as the fire wove a dance of her own. And it was a magical experience.

Occasionally I would hear a roar from the school hall - sometimes laughter, other times determined shouts, but always an energy that was clearly building as the workshop progressed. And all the time, I stayed with my fire. We got to know each other. And I knew she was burning brightly so that others could let their potential shine brightly as they walked across her burning embers. 1,645 degrees of heat to be precise. She was living her entire life to the full over only a few short hours. And I felt honoured and privileged to be the one who would be there with her and accompany her from her birth through to her eventual death.

Eventually the time came for people to walk. They came out together, a new energy of determination showing through the faces and movements of each and every one of them. And as the first person walked (Ewan - you're a star. You said you would, you did, and I'm proud of you) the energy increased. Calm, clear, centered.... and every single person walked with conviction and power over the fire. Not just once, and not alone. People walked in pairs, in threes, they sauntered, they marched, they danced... and it was beautiful.

After a certain amount of time we did a final walk, and were invited to stand in the middle and state out loud, in one word, what we were going to bring to the world as a result of the workshop. Something that was important to each individual. There was peace. Love. Happiness. Power. Strength. Belief. Hope and so many other words that people chose to say out loud. For me, it was Truth. For that is where I am. Because for me there is no other way - no matter the consequence.

And as these final walks were happening, I felt the fire giving thanks for her part in helping these beautiful people with their own transformation. Their experience had given her life meaning. And I felt her begin to burn down and leave with grace and gratitude while the group of new-born Firewalkers made their way back in to the old school hall. I stayed and waited for a while, giving my own thanks to the fire, before joining the group for the final de-brief and wrap-up.

And do you know what I've actually truly discovered through this process? I've just this very minute broken away from writing and been outside in my courtyard here at home in France - the sunshine warm and comforting, and talking with my dear and very wise friend Beatrix. I was explaining to her that I'm writing about my experiences from Saturday, but that I hadn't yet finished. I'd hit a "break" point. At the same time I felt able to explain to her my surprise and sense of freedom about some of the words I now feel comfortable in writing. My personal expressions of emotion and experience that I'm happy to share. And as I was sharing this with her it hit me.

I felt a strange but familiar question bubbling up from deep inside of me. The feeling was in my tummy. Gurgling, rumbling, and working it's way up... urging me to give it a voice. But as soon as I understood the message, it became clear. I had no need to speak it out loud. Just to write it, and make sense of it that way. Explain and share my "ah-ha" moment as it's happening. So here goes - I hope it makes sense.

OK. I'm now almost taking it for granted that things are suddenly all going so well for me... hmmm... well alright, actually it's not exactly "sudden" because it's been a long time in the making, and lots of tough stuff to go through, but I can suddenly realise that things are consistently going well for me. No glitches, no dramas. I'm in synch, in the groove, tip top, tickety-boo - whatever positive words or phrases you can think of, they apply to me right now. But... you know what? It's scary! And, up until this point I hadn't recognised quite how scary it is! And here's why:

It seems natural to be happy and in synch, right? The good stuff is what we all want, right? A happy and fulfilled existence is what we're all searching for, right?

OK.... so get this... because as I realised just how in synch I was, how happy I am, the question I was about to ask Bea was this:

"Do you think this means that I'm about to die?"

What????? And at the same time.... Doh!!!! Because there it was. All of a sudden. Out in the open. The truth. The final frontier that has kept me "in my place" for so long. It suddenly came to light that somewhere deep in the recesses of my unconsciousness, I have had the belief, the knowing, that while there's a struggle, then I'm alive. For while I'm struggling then I'm learning and growing.

If things are good then there's no more need for struggle. And if there's no more need for struggle, then there's no more need to learn. And if there's no more need to learn - well.... then there's no more need for life. So, therefore, if I'm happy - then I die. Boom. Finito. Game over. But I don't want to die - I want to live. So in order to live, I therefore needed to struggle.

Wham bam and thank you ma'am. Gotcha you slippery little sucker!

Cos you know what? Catch myself unawares and the truth is that life, for me, is so much more satisfying now that it's finally unconditionally good and supportive. Added to that, in fact, it actually provides so many more opportunities for growth and exploration when things are going well!  Doh!!!

So that old cold belief, that old cold unconscious programme, that old cold and frozen way of being has now left me. The flame of truth has melted my unconscious chains, warmed my heart, and set me free. Thank you Bea for being my witness.

So NOW my life has begun in earnest.... and here I come with arms wide open! Yeeeeeee haaaaaaaa!!!!!

Enhanced by Zemanta