Three things I learned in 2016

I could have written a post about how well I met (or didn’t, as the case may be) the goals I set in early January, but I doubt my yoga attendance record or attempts to address my tendency for lateness are of much interest to anyone but me. What I’m writing about, instead, is what I’ve learned this year. Because the truth is, the challenges are always more interesting than the wins (right? right?).
Here goes.

Lesson 1: There is no one thing that makes everything perfect
In theory, I already knew this. But I had to experience it again to really understand it. Allow me to explain.
For years I’ve been banging on about how finding a partner is not a magic formula for happiness and purpose, as it’s our sacred responsibility to create these for ourselves. Even though I believed this devoutly, there was still a part of me that believed love would somehow cause some deep transformation that would result in me becoming a better, more confident, altogether more complete person. So when I found myself in a relationship this year, for the first time in many years, guess what happened? Nothing.
I mean, lots of stuff *did* happen – don’t get me wrong, loving someone and being loved in return is wonderful and deeply satisfying, and I am very happy – but it turns out I am still the same person as I was before I met him. I’m still battling insecurities, afraid of my own inadequacy and struggling to find my way in the world. 
Without realising it, I had been looking for the one thing that would make everything perfect. That’s a pretty familiar MO for me, actually. Over the years such searches have included: cutting out gluten (it will make me feel so much better!), taking overseas trips (it will help me find myself!) and lastly, meeting someone who would sense in me something special, something that I wanted so badly to be there… and was terrified was not.
A relationship, it turns out, does not so much fill the gaps in yourself as much as expose new ones. This is as true about love as it is about losing weight and getting a new job. Changing yourself has little to do with changing your circumstances, and significantly more to do with changing your thoughts and beliefs. And gratitude, always gratitude. There is no one thing, and there is no perfect. The best work I’ve done in terms of my personal growth, this year and all years, had nothing to do with any other human. And that’s as it should be.
Lesson 2: It’s OK if people don’t share my opinions or beliefs
I don’t know when or how this happened, but sometime during the year I stopped giving a fuck about how people responded to what I do. I used to avoid discussing One Grounded Angel, fearing the disapproval of others. This did me an enormous disservice, and possibly also others who might have needed some of the messages I was passing on. I suspect this reticence to be seen diminished in direct proportion to my sureness about the value of the information I’m passing on.
Of course, the more ‘visible’ I became, the more I became exposed to criticism and negative opinions. My viewpoint on such matters has always been this: what other people believe in is none of my business. I won’t say it doesn’t upset me when people post messages telling me what I do is bullshit but I would like to think I’m better at not taking that personally. This is the mantra I intend to carry into 2017: I do not need the approval of people who do not approve of me (that’s a life lesson from George Michael, by the way).

Lesson 3: I have failed, but I am not a failure

I wrote about this at length in a June blog post (read it here) so I’ll keep this to a brief summary. I had to change tack halfway through the year, as my reiki practice rooms failed to attract enough clients to be profitable. This stung. I felt personally inadequate, as if this lack of success were an indictment on my own worthiness. It took a period of healing and gradual acceptance for me to realise that this was not the case. This failure does not make me a failure.
Everything has played out exactly as it was supposed to. I don’t know why just yet, and maybe I never will, but I do know that venture was not meant to be. And that must mean something better is coming.
2017, I’m ready.

Seems like everyone is an introvert now. But maybe that's not so healthy...

Suddenly it’s cool to be an introvert. Susan Cain’s 2013 TED talk about the power of introversion has racked up more than 14 million views, her book on the same theme is a New York Times bestseller, and now memes and even T-shirts about detesting other people are popping up everywhere. Who knew that declaring an aversion to human company could be such a popular statement? 
I’ve talked a lot on this blog about being an introvert, and why I jealously guard my private time. I’ve explained how small talk leaves me tongue-tied and how parties feel confronting for me (that post here). I’ve theorised that my introversion is linked to my deep sensitivity – which, of course, is part and parcel of being a healer and intuitive. But a few weeks ago I read a New York Times article asserting that some people are now using introversion – which seems to have become a badge of honour – as an excuse to be anti-social. That’s not a social condition, its laziness. 

I’ve realised I tend to do this too. 
I have a theory that, for some, claiming to be an introvert – is simply the desire for a bit of time out. We’re being slammed with a barrage of information 24/7 , and have less time to ourselves than ever before, so saying we don’t like socialising might be one way of trying to validate our intrinsic need for more quiet time. That has nothing to do with shyness and everything to do with feeling like we have to justify relaxation time (as if it were an indulgence). So it’s not a case of: ‘I don’t want to go to that engagement party because being around other people is draining and provoking for me’, it’s more: ‘I don’t want to go because I’ve had no time to myself this week and Saturday night is my only chance to get it’. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But for me, I’ve realised I need to be careful to make sure that preferring my own company doesn’t become the norm. Because in limiting my interactions with people, I limit my ability to grow, learn and give.
Actively avoiding gatherings where there will be a large crowd, or where I will be expected to network, has become a habit for me. I know such events will make me uncomfortable, so I try to dodge them. Of course it’s smart to protect my physical energy and to be discerning about how I spent what little downtime I have. But here’s the problem, summarised so brilliantly in the NY Times article: if we are constantly retreating into our shells, we aren’t connecting with each other. That’s a problem because, as Hugh Mackay asserts in his book Beyond Belief – How We Find Meaning, With Or Without Religion, human beings are hardwired for connection. We crave human contact and a sense of belonging, which help bring meaning to our existence. It’s also a problem because, from a spiritual perspective, we are here to help each other (which also brings meaning to our existence, BTW). In refusing to sit in company with other people, we are swatting away the gentle beckoning finger of the Universe inviting us to offer support to another. We also cut ourselves off from support from others (because even when everything in your life is going swimmingly, you still need to feel supported). Being a hermit holds a certain appeal, but the alone zone is a space to rest, not to reside.
When the New York Times journo asked Susan Cain (of the aforementioned TED talk and book) if, by choosing to read a book in the car while their kids are at a school function, self-indulgent introverts were actually just being rude – she laughingly agreed, saying sometimes “you have to consider the other person’s point of view instead of getting wrapped up in your own discomfort”.
Standing around in a bar talking about the weather (or in New Zealand, where I grew up, rugby – which, bafflingly, seems to hold endless fascination for almost everyone) isn’t exactly beneficial to anyone in a larger sense. But those awkward small conversations can be the gateway to slightly larger interactions where people do have an opportunity to express themselves. You may not necessarily be able to offer practical assistance to someone complaining about the sleep deprivation their seven-month-old son is inadvertently causing, but in listening to their struggle you are offering emotional support. I believe that the greatest desire of every person is to be seen, heard and understood. We facilitate this by bearing witness to each other’s experiences and struggles, without judgement or unsought advice. This is the simplest way we can show up for each other. As the saying goes, the greatest problem with our communications is that we listen to reply instead of listening to understand. 
Even the act of simply smiling at someone is immensely powerful on an energetic level. Mother Teresa said: “Every time you smile at someone it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.” All the love-heart eye-emojis in the world sent from your living room won’t make someone feel as good as a RL smile does. (OK, I’ve just re-read that it sounds reeeeally cheesy... but you know what I mean, right?) The point is, we shine our brightest when we are around other people. Not when we are on the couch alone, sucking up our tea through a Tim-Tam straw (soz!). I want to continue to allow myself me time but I’m going to be tougher on myself when my urge to evade social occasions comes up. 
Much like Netflix, introversion in large doses is not necessarily good for me. Or anyone else, for that matter. 

How to improve your love life (spoiler alert: it doesn't involve Facebook)

If a relationship happens in the forest and no one witnesses it, does it really happen at all?
This is the question I’m asking myself after the emergence of a bizarre Facebook trend this week called the Love Your Spouse Challenge.
The idea is that people are ‘challenged’ to post pictures of their partner every day for a week to ‘prove’ how much they love them. Exactly why this is challenging or even necessary is not clear.
Big deal, you probably think – it’s only a bunch of photos, and it sure beats having a newsfeed chock-full with political rants. Plus, it’s not like oversharing on Facebook is a new phenomenon. I agree… and yet I find this trend perplexing. The idea that so many people feel they need to ‘prove’ the integrity of their relationships to anyone outside of that relationship is a little concerning.

We’ve had the ‘relationship’ angel card come up twice in the last week, so the Universe is putting a lot of emphasis on the strength of our primary relationships right now. The angels have been encouraging us to really show up for our partners. At no point, however, did they mention ~posting~ about our partners.
If you feel like you need to prove your love for your partner, that’s a fairly good indicator that you need to have a conversation. With them, that is, not with your 378+ Facebook friends. Because people who feel secure in their relationships generally don’t go looking for validation from other people. They don’t need to.
Perhaps it’s just me who feels this way – after all, I’m slightly allergic to highly personal Facebook posts. When my boyfriend changed his Facebook status – and, consequently, mine also – to ‘in a relationship’, I felt quite uncomfortable, for reasons that had nothing to do with our relationship and everything to do with what people thought about it. I knew that this would invite public comment on something that is, ultimately, private.
Sure enough, over an excruciating three-day period we got a bit of attention. I squirmed in my seat as well-meaning people posted excited comments. Someone even said ‘congratulations’ as if I had won a prize. Perhaps escaping that perennially shameful institution known as singledom is regarded as a prize of sorts (sigh). 
I don’t mean to be dismissive – it’s lovely that people wanted to share in our happiness, and many people knew that I had felt ready for a relationship for some time. But the showy nature of Facebook made me feel like I’d been forced to ride atop a float in some weird parade. Someone told me they were pleased because I ‘deserved to be happy’. Well, yes, thank you, I do… but so does everyone, surely. ‘I was happy before I met this guy, too!’ I wanted to shout. No one cares. It feels like we idealise relationships so much that we don’t recognise single people as being truly happy and complete. For obvious reasons, this is problematic. 
I know that the people commenting on my status change had only the best of intentions, and certainly weren’t making social commentary. But it felt like some remarks reflected an underlying, widespread belief that a relationship is the only measure of someone’s success in the world, and that a woman without a man is lacking in a major way. I suspect this is what fuels the idea that a relationship flaunted on social media is a healthy one.
But I digress.
From a spiritual perspective, your romantic relationship is a direct reflection of your relationship with yourself. When you’re feeling insecure or doubtful of your own worth, that will show up in the way you show up for your partner. You cannot have a healthy relationship with someone if you don’t believe you truly deserve love. Part of our soul’s journey in this lifetime is to grow to appreciate our own intrinsic worth and immense power, so we can shine our brightest. Yet we are socially conditioned to believe that our worth derives from earning the love of another. So we saddle that person with the burden of fulfilling us and giving our lives meaning, not realising that this task belongs to us alone.

Self-love is an inside job. You cannot outsource it. The bad news: it’s really hard to love yourself in a world that tells you you’re not good enough (alone or otherwise). The good news: it’s entirely possible to do so – which is why the Universe will keep gently nudging you in this direction. And the better you get at valuing yourself, the better your romantic relationship will become. Or if youre single, the better quality of partner youll attract. I did not meet a lovely man then became a contented, confident person who leads from the heart – it was the other way around. I became a contented, confident person then attracted a lovely man.

Is there a Facebook trend for that? I think there should be. #relationshipgoals

Angels 101: how to talk to your angels

The most common question I get asked after mentioning my work with angels is: “Do I have guardian angels?” The second question is: “Can I talk to them?”
The answer to both questions is yes. Which is fantastic, because it means we are never alone (yay). It also means we can access wisdom and knowledge to guide us through any challenge.
No matter who you are, what choices you’ve made or what your spiritual beliefs are, you have guardian angels assigned to you. Their job is to give you guidance and help you find peace in your life. BUT they can’t help you unless you ask them to. That’s because we all have free will – in other words, the right to make our own life choices. The angels can’t violate that (unless, of course, your life is in danger, and it’s not your time to pass on), so if you need help with something, you have to actually ask them.

So how do you speak to your angels? 
Some people choose to pray or meditate, but you don’t *have* to communicate in a formal way – you just need to express what is on your mind. You don’t even need to speak out loud – I often chat to my angels in my head.
Sometimes people think they shouldn’t bother their angels with requests that seem trivial. But your angels are there to help you – that’s their job. There’s really nothing too small or too big for them to tackle.
As well as your own guardian angels, there’s also an angel squad waiting in the wings (pun intended) to deal with specific sitches you might be facing. They have the power to help everyone at the same time, so don’t fear that you are taking them away from a more important task. Try talking to:
Archangel Raphael
He’s in charge of healing, so call upon him for physical or emotional health concerns. When you ask for his help, visualise emerald green light (that’s his colour) surrounding the part of your body or the situation that you want healed. BTW if you find the problem isn’t alleviated after calling on Raphael, that could be because it’s the symptom of a deeper emotional problem you need to address – for example, digestion problems are often to do with fears and stress; lower back is about financial stress (not feeling supported). 
Raphael is also associated with travel, so you can ask him to protect and guide your plane and aircrew, for example, when you’re on vacation. Whenever I’m driving long distances, I ask him to help me and the other drivers on the road to make good decisions.
Archangel Gabriel
This is the archangel associated with creativity and motivation. I ask Gabriel for help when I have writers’ block (for example, when I need a brilliant blog post idea!) and when I lack motivation to complete a task. Maybe you need inspiration for your son’s birthday cake. Maybe you’ve got an essay to write. Whatever your project, Gabriel’s your go-to angel.
Parking angels
Yep, there are angels to help you find carparks! You might wonder why angels would be interested in helping you with something so mundane, but remember that the angels’ job is to help you find peace. If someone could reserve a perfect carpark for you when you go out, wouldn’t that make your life more peaceful? Yes, yes it would. A warning: you do need to call upon the parking angels BEFORE you reach your destination (and ideally before you leave home), so they have time to make a space for you.
Archangel Michael
As the patron saint of police officers and emergency-service workers, Michael is associated with protection and security. I call upon him when I’m feeling physically vulnerable, such as if I’m alone at night and fearing for my physical safety. I also regularly ask him to protect my home and possessions – especially if I’ve got cause for concern (such as when we had people coming through for an open home). He’s also associated with courage and strength, so I ask him to shore up my reserves of those on the reg.
Romance angels
They can help you find love, or enhance your romantic relationship. Call on them to manifest a meeting with your soulmate, help you strengthen your relationship or provide clarity about whether your partnership is serving you.
If you are single, keep in mind that asking the romance angels for help manifesting a new relationship does not mean Ryan Gosling is going to knock on your door tomorrow (soz!). Because relationships are such a fundamental part of the way we learn and grow as humans, there is often work we need to do to prepare ourselves for healthy relationships. In other words – results may not be instant. So if you have been asking the Universe for some time to bring your soulmate into your life and are feeling disappointed, the Universe may be waiting for you to step up. A key question to ask yourself is if there’s something lacking in your life that you’re trying to source from another person – eg security, self-worth or happiness.  Those things all come from within, not from external sources. You cannot attract a healthy relationship from a place of lack.
Remember, too, that any romantic partner you have is either a soulmate or a lesson. If you’re constantly attracting partners who are not respectful or emotionally available, for example, that’s a sign you’re not ready for the right person yet (remember that the Universe will repeatedly send us situations that help us learn, until we master that lesson). I know, I know – the whole ‘love yourself’ thing is such a cliché… but it’s a cliché because it’s true. Figuring out how to love yourself is a massive part of what you’re here on this planet to do (and is the essential component to living a life with meaning).
The other thing to remember about relationships is divine timing – everything happens when it’s supposed to. If you’re asking your romance angels for a soulmate and you haven’t met that special someone yet, the Universe is not saying ‘no’, it’s saying ‘not yet’.
I know I’ve gone off on a tangent here, but I wanted to make it clear that – no matter what some other spiritual bloggers may tell you – manifesting healthy relationships isn’t as simple as putting in an order and being positive (which frequently leads to disappointment). If you ask for their help, the romance angels will work with you, but you’ll have to leave the timing up to them – and meet them halfway in terms of making sure you’re really, truly, ready. Above all, do not give up hope. There is always hope.
The takeaway message: Talk to your angels whenever you need help, and trust their answers. They can help you make better decisions and move forward in the direction of your dreams. Connecting with your angels is easy and incredibly reassuring. A good time to start that?  Yesterday. The second-best time? Today. 

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