Talking to “God” on the Big White Telephone

When I was growing up, we had a picture of a poem hanging up in our bathroom near the toilet. It was called “A Smile” and the author was unknown. My mother had bought this picture while pregnant with me. It was hanging in a shop window near the hospital and she would see it each time she went for a check up.

She told me that while she was pregnant with me, people would always comment on her smile and that it was these comments, and the fact that she kept seeing this poem, that led her to buy it one day.

During the many parties my sister and I would throw during high school, people spent a fair amount of time in our bathroom, and not just to use the toilet. Sometimes it was to get away from the crowd for a quick powwow and some girl talk, sometimes to make out with a boyfriend or a girlfriend, and sometimes it was to “talk to ‘God’ on the big white telephone”.

Whatever the reason, our friends started to become more familiar with the poem; so much so that it was actually quoted in write ups in the high school yearbook.

After my sister and I moved out, my mother made copies of it for us, perfect replicas of the original document on yellow parchment paper, each nicely framed.

Today, while I was out for my walk, I smiled at a man jogging past me and he smiled back. Then a girl on a bicycle smiled at me and I smiled back. Yesterday, a woman I had once chatted with waved to me and smiled from across the park. In fact, I share and exchange smiles with numerous people when I am out and about. It just feels good, even if they don’t smile back.

And it always makes me think of a special poem hanging on a bathroom wall, and a few of those conversations I once had on that “big white telephone”.

A SMILE

A smile costs nothing, but gives much. ☺It enriches those who receive, without making poorer those who give. ☺It takes but a moment, but the memory of it sometimes lasts forever. ☺None is so rich or mighty that he can get along without it, and none is so poor that he can be made rich by it.☺ A smile creates happiness in the home, fosters good will in business, and is the countersign of friendship.☺ It brings rest to the weary, cheer to the discouraged, sunshine to the sad, and is nature’s best antidote for trouble. ☺Yet it cannot be bought, begged, borrowed, or stolen, for it is something that is of no value to anyone until it is given away. ☺Some people are too tired to give you a smile ☺ Give them one of yours, as none needs a smile so much as he who has no more to give.

A Smile

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Heal Your Self, Heal the World

Heal Your Life Heal The World

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Letting Go

letting-go-quotes-awesome-sayings-sonia-ricotti

Have you ever experienced a lot of chaos in your outer world? Construction happening around you on a regular basis? Snafus at work or drama amongst your friends and family? Have you ever considered that this outer chaos may be a direct reflection of what’s going on in your inner world; what’s happening within your Self?

One night at work, I was standing calmly behind the bar as a few customers, there to celebrate a 50th birthday, were making gestures that they thought I was a bit stoned. I had just had a bit of a personal meltdown, pushing and swearing at a bullheaded co-worker, stepping outside to re-center myself, shedding a few tears, and returning to my place behind the bar.

I eventually approached these customers to politely let them know that I was not, in fact, “stoned” but rather completely and utterly exhausted and that it was this fact combined with the tears I had shed that created the dazed look and red, puffy eyes. While I was still reeling a bit at my strong emotional response that evening, trying to make some sense of it all, I continued to have a few laughs about “being stoned” for the rest of the party.

But when chatting about this with a friend, about why this happened or what I could take from it, I was reminded of a theory I had read about, one that suggests that there was a reason why Princess Diana’s death happened as it did. That there was a larger, dare I say, more spiritual purpose.

In the book it suggests that her death was perfect; that every experience is, in fact, perfect; that her death occurred to allow for the opening of the heart chakra of England, a country known for its “stiff upper lip”. I mean, let’s face it, the sheer magnitude of mourning over her death was incredible.

The emotional and physical meltdown I experienced when I finally got home after 12 hours of laborious work, and an emotional outburst, was overwhelming. My body was trembling, my sobbing was uncontrollable, and I eventually called a wise friend who just sat with me on the other end of the phone while I went through it.

“Oh, this is a BIG one,” she said calmly.

Emotional release is so important to one’s wellbeing. And the physical body plays an important role in not only allowing us to do this, but in giving us signals to indicate when we’ve fallen off track or lost our center.

I was also in the midst of a deep liver and gallbladder cleanse. The liver is associated with emotions like anger, fear, hurt so, during a detox, pent up emotions like this can also re-surface in order to be released. And situations will present themselves to allow for this to happen, such as this stressful night at work and that co-worker standing in my way and refusing to help.

That really pissed me off.

When we cleanse or detoxify our bodies, it is for a much greater purpose than simply removing toxins from our overloaded systems in order to gain more energy and combat any underlying health issues that may be affecting us as a result.

Detoxifying is about letting go.

Letting go is scary. Nobody wants to “lose their shit”, literally or figuratively, especially because letting go can be utterly exhausting, a bit embarrassing, and quite painful.

But pain can be necessary for real growth.

My wise friend told me she once spent some time wailing like a child on her kitchen floor, slamming her fists down in a tantrum, and lord knows I’ve had my fair share of emotional meltdowns curled up on the floor over these past ten years. But boy did that feel great!

This is what I have been working on: how to heal my Self.

After struggling for seven years with various psychiatrists and psychologists analyzing my life, trying to dig up the past to determine what was “wrong” with me and prescribing medications for depression and anxiety in order to “fix” it, with much of it resulting in being prescribed other drugs, I’d finally had enough so I quit, cold turkey.

I’ve explored numerous forms of holistic healing ranging from acupuncture to cranial sacral work, deep tissue massage, chiropractic, colon hydrotherapy, Jungian dream therapy, Buddhism, Reiki, yoga, meditation and more. I’ve read all sorts of books and researched things online and now have certification in Reiki energy healing, working primarily with crystals.

In fact, I had also been working with a large piece of Rose Quartz during this most recent deep cleansing process. Rose Quartz is a stone of love whose healing properties include encouraging self-love and allowing unexpressed emotions and heartache to be released.

I’ve also explored all sorts of artistic disciplines from filmmaking to dance, to spoken word poetry and acting. All of which were very therapeutic in their own way.

I took an Improv Acting class once. I was the only woman in a class with eight men. As a writer, I live primarily in my mind and thoughts so, while I had a few funny breakthrough moments – including one skit where I found myself on a treadmill, hitting the button to go faster and faster in an attempt to get away from a guy who kept asking me out – getting out of that thinking mode and opening myself up to being in that moment was incredibly challenging for me. I often found myself in tears when I got home and, at the end of the eight weeks, a classmate even said that he was surprised I kept coming back!

My dear friend and actor, Madeleine Sherwood, put me through a series of acting exercises in her living room once, to get me into my body and out of my head. She also made me sit down and write. When I began to cry she asked me if I’d been told that it was not okay to express my emotions. Coming from a family where both of my parents are from England, I’d say it was simply in my makeup and was more of a learned behaviour.

“It’s okay to express your emotions”, she said.

I remember when my mum came to stay with me and I took her to her first yoga class. It was a restorative class allowing for long held, restful poses on the mat. When we got home, I ran her a hot bath with Epsom salts, to release the toxins, and to allow her some privacy should she need to have a bit of a cry: a natural and welcome part of practices like yoga and another great way to release toxins.

It wasn’t until the next morning that she said, “I really enjoyed that yoga class but felt a strong need to cry afterwards. Is that normal?”

My dear friend and actor, Julia Mackey, has written and performed her solo show called “Jake’s Gift” over 700 times over the past 6 years. It is a show about D-Day veterans that is both funny and sad and it often evokes a strong emotional response from the audience.

Julia told me that during one performance, she could hear someone sobbing uncontrollably in the balcony which was a bit disconcerting for her down on the stage. I suggested that she was allowing that person to experience some deep healing. What a gift.

My colon hydro-therapist told me that after the series of treatments I had with her, and this liver gallbladder cleanse, I would feel “amazing”. That once I’d detoxified and had my system working properly to eliminate toxins regularly, nothing would phase me, that things would just roll off my back. And she’s right. I do feel pretty amazing.

I now feel as though anything could happen and I’d be alright with it. That even if it evoked a strong emotional response, I could simply sit with it and welcome it as another opportunity to let go.  A far cry from those depressed days ruminating over the past and worrying about the future.

Ironically enough, while I was finishing this essay, I closed the document without saving it, losing over half of what I’d written. While a tad bit annoyed, I laughed at the fact that I had to let go of an essay about letting go. It was actually pretty perfect.

We can’t always choose our moments to let go, to decide when and where it will happen, we just have to welcome the opportunity when it presents itself, as “ugly” as it might be – like crying in a theatre balcony, pushing a fellow co-worker, or losing a week’s worth of work.

And we won’t always know what the reason for the emotional release is, be it childhood trauma, past relationship distress, unexpressed grief over the loss of something. But it doesn’t matter. We don’t need to know. In fact, it’s probably better that we don’t. We just need to give ourselves permission to LET. IT. GO.

It really is amazing how much lighter it feels.

letting-go-quote

 

 

 

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Out, Damned Roommate!

psyche

Have you ever caught yourself thinking the worst of a situation? Or how about convincing yourself of things that ultimately make you feel just awful and probably aren’t even true?

A dear friend of mine called me today in a calm panic. She hadn’t heard from her partner in over 24 hours and feared the worst. They never missed a day without communicating either via email or text so, when she hadn’t heard from him, she assumed he’d been badly hurt or was perhaps even dead.

I suggested that there must be another explanation, that perhaps his cell phone battery had died and he was stuck somewhere with a work or family emergency.

Then, I asked her how she felt. Did she “feel” that something “bad” had happened? Or was it just her mind convincing her that something bad had happened?

She wasn’t sure. She hoped that she would feel it if something bad were to have happened, that she might have that sort of “knowing”, but all she could do was think the worst.

As we chatted a little bit more about it, I heard a beep in the background on her end, a text message from her partner. He was fine. In fact, he had sent her a message just yesterday, one that had not made it through.

A single missed message and look at the absolute mayhem that can create in the mind, or that the mind can create around a single missed message.

In Michael A. Singer’s book entitled, The Untethered Soul – A Journey Beyond Yourself, he spends a whole chapter on what he refers to as our “Inner Roommate”: that voice inside the mind that just won’t shut up, the psyche.

He suggests paying attention to it the next time you have a shower, to see just how much commotion that voice is causing. Are you really peacefully soaping your body or washing your hair or is there a constant stream of chatter – one that hops from one random topic to the next – going on inside your head?

“I’d better not forget to pick up my dry cleaning today. I wonder how so and so is doing? That movie last night was so good.”

He then suggests that you externally personify this inner roommate, paying attention to it while watching TV for example, imagining it is sitting on the couch beside you:

“Did you turn off the light downstairs? You better go check. Not now. I’ll do it later. I want to finish watching the show. No. Do it now. That’s why the electric bill is so high.”

Seriously. Any more of this neurotic behaviour and you’d be telling that roommate to shut the fuck up or be kicking him out completely.

A few months ago I began to notice my inner roommate a bit more. I was meeting with a talented writer and performer with the intention of working with him to better my own writing and get it ready for performance. I really wanted to get to the next stage of my work and just wasn’t sure what my next steps should be.

With this in mind, I found myself somewhat inspired by my interactions with this person but also slightly disheartened by it. One day, on my way home from one of our meetings, I found myself in tears. So, I began to listen to my inner monologue, which went something like this:

“What are you doing? Who do you think you are? You’re nothing like these successful people you surround yourself with. THEY’RE actually DOING something. What are YOU doing? WHAT is your problem? You suck.”

Is it any wonder I got upset?

Okay. So, if you were sitting next to your roommate or your best friend and they started talking to you like this, what would YOU do?

It suddenly dawned on me that I didn’t have to take this shit anymore.

It’s funny because I still have trouble deciding whether this new awareness I have of my own inner roommate makes me crazy or sane. I mean, I catch myself sometimes having an inner dialogue with myself in an attempt to get the madness to stop, which in itself could be considered a bit mad I suppose.

In fact, I wrote a poem many years ago called “Madness” (below), which touches on this very topic of the mind and the mayhem it causes if we let it. Reading this poem again now brings about another “aha” moment of a message for myself that is now finally being revealed through my own writing.

I think I’m starting to get it now.

I told a friend the other day that my Ego-mind is very strong and not always positive, which creates all sorts of fear and trepidation as I work to break free from my comfort zone again and take steps towards the unknown. In fact, my very first blog post, entitled “Hello Ego”, touched on the fear I felt my negative Ego-mind was creating.

https://pippahirst.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/hello-ego/

My friend today was terrified that her partner had died because her mind led her to believe that something awful had happened because of one missed text message. And, in actuality, this could have been the case. But why let the mind, that inner roommate, make that decision for you only to reprimand you for being so silly when everything turns out just fine or say “I told you so” when it all goes to shit.

Listen up and listen in and then tell that inner roommate that you’re just not going to listen to him anymore.

 

faith over fear

 

Madness

My mind is racing
How can it be
I feel so trapped
And yet so free
My mind is racing
Toward no end
I am alone
Without a friend
My mind is racing
Driving me mad
Thoughts of the future
And the past I’ve had
My mind is racing
Making me weep
Leaving me to drown
In puddles deep
My mind is racing
I cannot move
Away from things
I need to prove
My mind is racing
So it may seem
I am asleep
But cannot dream
My mind is racing.

 

a poem by pippa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Love & Trust

love-quotes-1

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day and of relationships, and because I was recently reminded of this note I posted to facebook last year, I am sharing it again.

originally posted to facebook on May 4, 2013

As a single woman turning 40 this month, and a female who has, since I was a kid, felt a strong and much easier connection with male friends, I have found it challenging, and often times impossible to maintain some of my most important friendships with the men in my life. The trouble starts when these heterosexual men enter into a relationship or get married. Sometimes I meet the wives and girlfriends and become friends with them too, which is nice, and yet my primary relationship is not going to change. It will remain with that male friend.

I am still single, by choice. I am stubbornly independent and have always known that there were some things I needed to do before entering into that sort of commitment. And I clearly haven’t found that “special someone” yet. But why should this define whether or not I remain friends with someone? While I am not unsympathetic, why do I have to live my life to make someone else more comfortable? And what of the women in my life who could also have become so much more than friends? Why is my friendship with them more acceptable?

The men I have dated often become good friends, and some have always been just friends, but it rarely lasts. Now, after losing contact or being cut off from many of these wonderful friendships, and after 20+ years of friendship with someone I thought I would always have in my life but am now finally ‘relinquishing’ to another woman, I am coming to terms with the fact that I have to let it go.

I love what Jada Pinkett-Smith says about LOVE and TRUST. “Do we believe loving someone means owning them? Do we believe that ownership is the reason someone should “behave”? Do we believe that all the expectations, conditions, and underlying threats of “you better act right or else” keep one honest and true? Do we believe that we can have meaningful relationships with people who have not defined nor live by the integrity of his or her higher self? What of unconditional love? Or does love look like, feel like, and operate as enslavement? Do we believe that the more control we put on someone the safer we are? What of TRUST and LOVE?”

I am tired of catering to the insecurities of other people and also to my own. If the relationship is strong or “grown”, as Jada puts it, there need be no concern over my friendship with their male or female partner and vice versa. They have chosen each other. I have chosen to walk my own path. Why does this dictate that I can no longer spend time with my old friend, just the two of us, meeting for the very occasional coffee or lunch or a long walk and good conversation?  Why can’t we let go of the past and build on the present situation with trust and respect for one another?

Perhaps I’ll feel differently when I do find that “special someone” but I hope not. I hope that when I finally do enter into a loving and committed partnership it will be one where we can accept that, after 40+ years, we will have undoubtedly built strong connections with other people, male and female, and that these do not pose a threat to our relationship.

In fact, it is these friendships that have allowed us to experience the beauty of what it means to be in a special relationship, that provide us with important insights into our current circumstances, and that have helped us to grow into the person our partners fell in love with in the first place.

Now there’s something we can all be grateful for.

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Kindred Spirits

We understand, we relate so well
Yet something’s in the way
We’re different people
With similar dreams
But somehow, that’s ok

Are we hopeless romantics, or fools in love?
Does one ever really know?
One thing is certain
The people we meet
Will help us each to grow

And if one day, we meet again
Our stories we will share
Of who we are
And how we’ve changed
But that we’ll always care

About the times that we once spent
And how we learned to fly
By letting go
But holding on
To thoughts of you and I.

a poem by pippa, 2001

In Love with Your Friends

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Gaia

snow

I like it when it snows.

This morning it was a dull and rainy day
and now
with the flurries falling softly all around
everything looks brighter.

Trees with no leaves are now coated in icing sugar snowflakes.

Cold pavement and dead grass lie cozy under a fluffy white blanket, tightly weaved
one perfect flake at a time.

Each flake is unique as it forms cotton ball tufts atop barren bushes once
decorated with brilliant floral bouquets.

Gaia, my guide, is asking me to join her amidst her pure and ever-changing art,
ready to vanish at any moment.

“Come out and play”, she calls.

“Come and see the perfection of my work.
Witness the impermanence of it all.”

“Breathe it in. It is yours to do what you want with.”

“It is yours.”

“I made it for you.”

snow stop

a poem by pippa

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Look Up

Toronto Moon

The other night I was walking home from work. It was after midnight. As I passed the little park near the subway station I noticed a robust figure sitting on a bench near the fountain in the park. I couldn’t discern if it was a man or a woman. It was dark, cold, and there was a bit of distance between us.

Suddenly the bundled figure said, “Look up.”

At that moment I stopped and turned my head to the stars. The moon was just beginning to wane following a full moon the night before. I stared at its brilliance for a moment, grey smoky clouds passing over it but never covering its white light completely.

I wondered if the stars I could also see were actually stars or satellites. There were quite a few sparkling lights that were visible and it’s rare to actually see so many stars in a big city sky, even though we know that they’re there.

I had been arguing a lot with my boss that night, and over the course of those past weeks, something that has rarely happened in my life, so often found myself walking that route home feeling a bit low energy and replaying the events of the evening in my mind, wondering if it was ever going to stop.

I have often disagreed with people I have worked with, and for, but never outwardly argued with them like this, so I was having trouble understanding my newly argumentative reactions and how best to deal with and shift them.

I understood that my boss felt very strongly about how he wanted things to be done and when they weren’t done the way he wanted, he wasn’t shy about telling us. But as I finally pointed out to him in one of our increasingly ridiculous arguments, one had standing in front of other staff while in the midst of delivering food, I was getting a bit tired of the constant stream of criticism with nary a thank you or “good job”.

The focus always seemed to be on what went wrong or needed improvement as opposed to what went right. And in the catering industry there is just as much that goes right, as there is that goes wrong. And as long as the customer is happy, isn’t that all that truly matters?

If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that what we focus on is what we tend to attract and I’ve also come to experience firsthand that we cannot control other people, only our response to them.

I had even said this recently to some fellow co-workers at the call centre I also work at; so many of them so tired of dealing with certain types of customers. Understandably, when you are doing something day in and day out, it can become a bit of a grind. Especially when it’s not where you envisioned you would be five, ten, fifteen years ago when you first began.

And over time you can come to expect that every situation like the one before it will have the same inevitable results.

But when we think this way, isn’t this ultimately what we are going to create?

If we respond to someone in a way that suggests we are expecting a certain type of response from them, isn’t that likely to be the response we are going to get?

When someone calls in, frustrated because something they are trying to do isn’t working, rather than continue to listen to them complain, aggravating the situation by speaking to them with an impatient tone, only to later complain about having had to listen to them complaining, why not politely try to stop them mid-sentence and simply offer a solution?

“Ah yes, I’m sorry that’s happening for you. Let’s not worry about that now. Why don’t you just let me help you? That’s what I’m here for.”

It’s not always possible to calm the other person down but we can do our best to remain calm ourselves, after all, we can only control our own reactions, right?

In fact, a woman at an event the other night misplaced her phone. She was furious and felt that one of the service staff was responsible, threatening to charge the restaurant for its replacement. I explained that we were doing everything we could; other staff made suggestions as to where it could be; we even searched through the tiramisu-filled garbage.

What a yucky mess.

It was her reaction to the situation that struck me though. She was so worked up blaming staff for the missing phone and claiming, “My night is ruined and I worked so hard on this party”, to which I simply replied, “And you did a great job. I have faith it will turn up.” And it did. One of her colleagues had played a bit of a joke on her and put it in his pocket.

She promptly approached the members of the service staff and gave us each a hug, apologizing for being “such a bitch”.

It’s so easy to get sucked into the negativity of a situation; to focus only on what’s gone wrong; to criticize, complain, and jump to conclusions.

And while, at the time, the things that are happening around us – like delivering food to the wrong table, losing a phone, or dealing with a frustrated customer – seem so very important, are they?

There is nothing wrong with striving for excellence or wanting the boss or the customer to be happy, but when we get upset about all these little things, aren’t we losing sight of something?

“Look up”, that hobo-like figure on the bench said to me.

As I stared at the moon and the stars I smiled and yelled back at the wise stranger, “Thank you!” and then continued on my journey home feeling light again.

Sometimes all we need is a little reminder to look up.

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“Walk outside on a clear night and just look up into the sky. You are sitting on a planet spinning around in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Though you can only see a few thousand stars, there are hundreds of billions of stars in our Milky Way Galaxy alone. In fact, it is estimated that there are over a trillion stars in the Spiral Galaxy. And that galaxy would look like one star to us, if we could even see it.

You’re just standing on one little ball of dirt and spinning around one of the stars. From that perspective, do you really care what people think about your clothes or your car? Do you really need to feel embarrassed if you forget someone’s name?” – Michael A. Singer (The Untethered Soul)

http://www.scaleofuniverse.com/

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