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 February 2011

Pyjamas And High Heeled Shoes!

Daffodils are out. Crocuses are blooming. And on my table outside the kitchen, my white Carnegie Hyacinth is proudly sprouting flowers. Spring, my friends, is finally coming. And I welcome it with open arms.

Don't get me wrong, winter this year has been an extremely colourful season for me. Lots has been happening and I have finally become comfortable with this feeling of being... well... comfortable! More relaxed in my own skin than I can ever remember, and confident that I can now overcome any obstacle, means that now... now... I am now consciously focusing on accepting more joy and love in to my life.

You see, since my earliest memories, I have learned the art of survival. Not the kind of daily fight for life that face much of the world's population, forced to eek out an existence in abject poverty and cruelty. No, of course I'm not talking about that sort of monumental survival challenge. My battles have been more on the 'inner world' - the emotional, psychological blows that you could say are harder to spot. Bearing no physical scars or disfigurements, and (to the outside world at least) living a life where it seemed I was looked after, there were no questions asked about my well-being.

Much of my life since childhood has been about proving myself - seeking acceptance and constant reassurances that, actually, I am ok. Fighting against injustice, championing the underdog and determining to find another way in the face of adversity, I've found solace in the world of self-development, motivation and coaching. Because each time I am able to help someone work through their issues, I am also helping myself. Yes, you might say my chosen profession is somewhat self-serving. To which I would respond loud and clear - "absolutely. Spot on." Because that's exactly what it is.

It hasn't always been that way. You may remember in a previous post from 2009 I talked about my sudden realisation that all the time I had believed I was coaching people for them, it suddenly dawned on me that I was coaching them for me? That through helping others, I was actually helping to heal myself in the process? You may also remember that, at that time, I decided that my coaching days were therefore over and done. My thought behind it being that surely, if I'm coaching for me rather than my client, then I can no longer call myself a coach? Because to me, my work had been about giving my all - heart and soul - to helping anyone who requested my services. And the realisation that underneath it all, my driving force had likely been the need to heal myselfwas a bit of a shock to say the least!

Thankfully I've moved on since then. Thankfully I now have a much greater understanding of the saying "if the man is right, the world is right" - and so now I look back at my early coaching days with a misty eyed fondness for the person who threw herself headlong in to her profession, determined to make the world a better place. Because, in the process, and since I started writing this blog, I have indeed succeeded in making the world a better place. My world. The inner landscape that my soul inhabits. The place that, until relatively recently, was cold, brittle and grey - too scared to bend, too bruised to hug, too hoarse to shout.

I hadn't realised that, as well as the castle walls I had built to protect myself, I also had hundreds of bloodthirsty sharks circling in my moat. I had thought, as you know, that the castle was there to protect me - and in my early years it certainly served its' purpose. But as the years rolled by, I became a prisoner in my own fortress. But the strange thing is, I hadn't even noticed.

It's only been over the past few months that friends have told me how difficult it can be to 'help' me. How darned self-sufficient I am, and how obstinate, capable and forthright I will be when faced with a challenge. I'm the first one to jump in when anyone else has a problem - and yet people struggle to get in and give me the kind of help they see I need. Heaven forbid they push too hard, because those circling sharks can attack in a moment's notice should anyone get too close! So the fact that my friends have finally felt able to tell me this, coupled with the fact that I am listening, is a big sign for me that I am finally freeing myself.

Which brings me nicely back to the point about my chosen career to coach and develop teams and individuals. And I can't help but laugh at the irony. Because for more years than I care to remember, I have been advising people to put themselves first. To find ways of accepting more of who they are, and to live their life through choice rather than need. And you know what? Now that I've finally 'got it', I am more than happy to embrace the fact that everything I do is indeed for me - because that's what life is about, and it's the only way to truly walk the talk and be authentic! So... yes, I coach and encourage people because it's good for me. I choose my profession because I like what I'm doing. I live my life to please myself - because then, and only then, can I help others as well.

And by accepting that, I believe I have finally and completely moved out of the 'survival' mode that has been my unconscious programme for nearly all of my life. Because finally, by putting myself first, and by listening to my body and my soul, I can live life in joy. Today, for example, it's now way past 2pm and I'm perched in the middle of my French kitchen in my pyjamas. I am wearing a pair of high heeled shoes I bought yesterday because I like the feel of them on my feet. The double butler sink in front of me has dirty plates in it, and I've just eaten some home-made tomato soup that I made last night. Now I am about to make myself a Nespresso coffee with sugar - and I might even have a square of dark chocolate with it! There are countless things I could be doing for work - but quite frankly I am choosing not to. This is my time, and today I shall spend it as I like, because we never know what's around the corner.

A couple of weekends ago, my dear neighbour died very suddenly from a brain haemorrhage. She was loved by many people, and was always full of life and laughter - so it came as a huge shock to everyone who knew her. She leaves behind grown up children and a husband who now simply doesn't know what to do with himself. Would she have approved of my get-up today? Silky pyjamas, high heeled shoes, and writing my blog in the middle of a messy kitchen?

Darned right she would. She'd probably have laughed like a drain and come along to join me. Bless you, Jacqueline, and rest in peace. I'm sure your smile and laughter is now lighting up the lives of many others who have passed before you. I raise my coffee cup to you my lovely friend - one day we'll see each other again. Until then, I shall continue to live life to the full and wear pyjamas and high heeled shoes whenever I like - Cheers!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

30 Years Ago Today

English: pink ribbon
Today marks an anniversary. On this day, thirty years ago, my mother lost her fight against breast cancer. The disease took her quickly, as we had only known about it for less than a month before, although she had had her suspicions for a long time previously - fear had stopped her from taking action. 

My sister called this morning and asked how I was - and I asked the same of her. We talked for a while, as we always do on this anniversary, and as I put the phone down I began to think. And I began to cry - silent emotions filling my heart, misting my vision until the warm wet tears spilled gently down my cheeks. And I wondered who or what the tears were for... so, as is now my way, I decided to write it through... to put it down in words and make sense of the feelings that are rumbling inside me. For this is a definite rumble - none of the crashing, churning bone-breaking stuff of the past two years. No, this is something that deserves appreciation and gentle attention - so that is what I'm doing. Paying attention to whatever is going on for me, and doing my best to appreciate with gratitude the gift that's behind it - for there is always always a gift.

Today I am one more year further on from that day. One more year older (though not necessarily wiser) and one more year along the roller-coaster journey that is my life. And I am lucky. For already, at 46, I have lived two years longer than my mother (and nine years longer than my father). I know all the good things that I am and that I have today - and I am lucky enough to have learned to appreciate life with more senses, colours, sounds and feelings than ever before. It is vibrant. Exhilarating. Intoxicating. And I am learning to ride with the twists and turns that continue to show themselves. So I don't think the rumbles are anything to do with 'today' - no, I think they're something to do with an older place, perhaps even primal.

Hearing my sister brought it home I think. You see, as she was talking, and as we acknowledged how many years had passed since that life-shattering day, I was suddenly transported back to the senses and feelings of that time. You may remember from previous posts that we had both learned to keep our emotions controlled. How to maintain a strong exterior in the hope it would hold everything together. We learned to move along with swan-like grace while our legs and feet paddled like fury below the surface, not just to keep us afloat but also to kick at the monsters that were lurking beneath and threatening to engulf us at any moment. Our hearts were constantly pounding, thumping at our chests from the terror and exhaustion of the situation - but nobody knew.

When mum had first gone in to hospital, just ten days earlier, my sister and I were the only two people who knew what was wrong with her. Nobody was to know - and, had I not confronted her with my own intuition, I suspect that we would not have known either. So we kept this dreadful secret. We smiled at our grandmother who had come to look after us, we carried on as usual at school, and we said nothing to our friends. We believed that if we stayed strong and brave, that this unimaginable nightmare would pass and that everything would return to normal. But of course it didn't. And when she died, I think it was just too much to comprehend. We both just went in to shock and literally shut down.

My sister was 11 years old and I had just turned 16 - and as I look back now at those two little girls who were so suddenly orphaned, both so lost and frightened, stuck in a reality from which there was no escape, my heart bursts with sadness and also with pride. We were so very vulnerable, yet somehow managing to keep ourselves together (at least on the outside) little realising the years of misery that were to follow as we trapped and at the mercy of adults who clearly had no comprehension or interest in our welfare. Our lives were, quite literally, turned upside down. We had to leave our home and our friends, moving to a new town to live with people we hardly knew - and where we never felt welcomed or at home. For the first few weeks of our new life I was on a camp-bed in the dining room...

In those dark days, months and years that followed on from 6th February 1981, I am pretty sure that I would not have had the strength to carry on had it not been for my little sister. Yes, of course I felt responsible to look out for her - and I'm sure that was a huge part of what kept me going. But more than that, it was the love and support that she showed me in return - that was the most important thing. That was what kept me strong and determined, even in the face of relentless and unimaginable horrors. We both passed all our school exams with flying colours, both went to university (although I dropped out) and in the years that followed have both become successful professional people with great reputations in our own fields. Quite an achievement I'd say!

And so now I turn my attention to my son, Dylan, who is today only a few months younger than I was when my life changed for ever. And it really brings everything home to me with a bang. People often tell me that my son is mature beyond his years - although some say it as though it's a bad thing, that he's left his childhood too quickly. I can understand their point of view, and I can also appreciate why some may feel he's becoming a young man too fast for his years. But, then again, they don't see the child-like behaviour that comes out when he and I are alone and watching a DVD in front of the fire, or the silly playground face-pulling games we still play when nobody's around. These are the private codes we share between us, and one of the many connections that make me so proud to have him as my son.

Yes, I accept it's true, I'm sure I've played a part in speeding up his development - and you know what? I wouldn't have it any other way. Mum always spoke to me as an adult, and I'm certain that was one of the many things that helped me get through the tough times. So I have always done the same with Dylan. And, because of my own experiences, and because he has no siblings, I am also very conscious that he has as many life tools at his disposal as early as possible. I fully understand that fate and fortune can turn on a sixpence, so I am keen for my son to be well equipped for any eventuality.

And the past couple of years have proven to me that indeed he is. Because he has already gone through his own tsunami with the shock and aftermath of Cam's disappearance. And he's shone through all of this as a strong, wise, beautiful human being. Because of him I stayed strong, knowing I had to be here for him - much like I felt about my sister after mum's death. And, like the experience with my sister, I realise that what helped me even more was the unconditional love and support that my son gave to me at the same time. That was what really got me through.

So where is the gift? Well, I have already been inundated with countless blessings as a result of difficult circumstances. Today, though, I think the gift I've found through those rumbling emotions is this. It's gratitude for the love and connection I share with my sister and my son - my cherished family. Two people who've been through the storms and have survived. Two people who I know I can count on and who can count on me. To Dylan and to Abigail - I love you.

And bringing that sense of love and gratitude to the surface has just made my day more radiant than it was before I started writing - so thank you for reading!

And to mum? Thank you for making me the person that I am. I hope I'm doing you proud, and I know that one day we'll all be together again - not too soon though, eh? There's a fair few more decades and plenty of adventuring left in me yet - bring it on!
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