“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” – W. B. Yeats
The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.
— Jelaluddin Rumi
‘i said to trauma,
“i am so much more than you.” ‘ – Kai Chen’s Thom, I Hope We Choose Love
The final prompt last night in Honouring Our Wholeness with @olwen.wilson had us wondering about what seeds we could plant if we consider how we are so much more than our trauma.
This is what I created. ‘Discovering New Landscapes.’ Trauma is a very familiar territory for me. I’ve been carrying around these fragmented pieces of land in my body for years ever since I was 9 years old and my dad died of leukaemia. Then my sister died. Then my mum died. One traumatic experience after another builds up layers of scar tissue, thick and hardening, from the bones out. Me thinking I can protect myself from pain hiding within the rolls of fat around my body. My whole body is a landscape of accumulated pain, suffering, abuse, self-abuse, rejection, hate and cruelty. And yet, last night in this gathering of women, feminine and non-binary people who are Black, Indigenous and People of Colour, I traced golden lines around my trauma. I remembered my mother and her body, like the pomegranate, full of seeds, but who’s garnet juice ran out as she miscarried after having me, which reminded me of my miscarriage before Miss Ella came along. But from these seeds within and without, new life, new power can be nurtured and brought to fruition. New landscapes of grasses and wild flowers can be tended. In time. In space. In body and mind and soul.
The Pilgrim goes on a journey. An outward journey, usually on foot, which mirrors an internal journey at the same time.
January has started slowly, just the way I wanted and needed it to be. I’m listening to what I need and I need more time and space hibernating, or wintering as I call it. I’m taking a slow walking journey within for the next few months which means I might not be showing up here as often as I’d like or want. But this pilgrimage towards my soul is needed. It’s needed to replenish as well as heal me.
When you find someone in your life who encourages you to hold onto your dream, who supports you in making it a reality, you have to honour them. You have to welcome them into your life and give thanks for their presence.
One such person in my life is Olwen Wilson. Olwen has gently supported me in bringing our Iceland Creative Retreat to fruition. Olwen has not only been a cheerleader but she is also offering her skills to the retreat. I thank you.
Let me introduce you to Olwen.
1. Tell us something about yourself
I’m Olwen (pronounced All-wen) Wilson. I’m an intuitive healing guide, secret keeper, advocate and fierce mama bear. I’m also a yoga teacher, Reiki master and I teach English as a second language to children.
The loves of my life are my husband and our seven-year-old son. My fur babies include two rescue cats that quickly claimed our family as their own.
I love getting out in the fresh air, being creative and learning new things. In the past year alone, I’ve given hand thrown pottery a try (I get an arm workout every time I pick up the mug I made), I made some recycled metal earrings, did some beading and needle felting, and learned to crochet (guess what my lucky family got as Christmas presents). But I’m also the happiest hibernating in our home because it’s the best way for me to recharge.
You can learn even more about me over on my website echorootswellness.com.
2. What gets you up out of bed in the morning?
Connection. Funny enough for this introvert (who can put in the effort to be an extrovert when I want to but will need to have a lot of down time to recover) I would never have thought that connection would be one of my biggest motivators.
Caroline Reynolds wrote in her book Spiritual Fitness, “Whenever we are forced into a situation where we cannot express ourselves honestly we suffer from what I call non-alignment fatigue. It occurs whenever you can’t express your natural exuberance, quietness, optimism or sadness in any situation.”
When I first read this, my world started to make more sense. She expressed how I had been feeling for years and why I originally thought that I was not a people person. I knew I definitely wasn’t a people pleaser (I enjoy being an instigator at times), but I still secretly wanted to be liked, so I acted in ways that were exhausting to me. And I also found myself swinging to the opposite end of the spectrum and purposely closing myself off as a way to protect myself.
It also helped me realize that perhaps I had been putting myself into situations that weren’t ideal. I tried to make friends or stayed friends with people who were nice enough, but they simply weren’t my people. I felt drained in those situations and relationships.
What I try to do instead now is seek out connections that bring me joy, get me excited and challenge me for the better. I consider myself lucky that I have a few great people in my inner circle who I don’t feel I need to be anything other than myself when I’m around them.
3. What do you know to be true in your heart?
Integrity is sexy and honesty is always the best answer. Apathy is a killer.
4. What was the best advice you’ve received?
You are your best advocate. I first learned this when I was dealing with a medical issue, but it’s served me well in other areas of my life too.
5. What are your thoughts about a woman’s place/ position in society at the moment?
It’s whatever, and wherever, she chooses it to be. She will potentially shift and morph her place/position over time, but it’s important that she has ownership over her choices. That’s my ideal.
6. How do you hold a relationship with the land?
I tune into it often and give thanks. Mainly because it helps me ground and since the land (earth) is supporting me, I check in to see what I can offer, or do, to create or keep some balance in our relationship.
Over the last few years, I’ve been getting to know my local trees, herbs and plants better. There’s so much to learn, but it’s been an empowering journey understanding how they communicate, their role in our ecosystem and how they may strengthen my health and support my family’s wellbeing. Knowing how to make my own tinctures, teas, infusions and bitters feels like I’ve been given the key to so much wisdom and I’m eager to know more.
7. What are you looking forward to most about your time in Iceland? Why did you agree to come along for the ride?
I’m looking forward to EVERYTHING!!
I can’t wait to put my feet in the dirt and black sand, get splashed by a waterfall, get my hands covered in paint, explore my inner thoughts and feelings and enjoy time in this magical land around the summer solstice. Having a chance to spend some time with other women who want the same is a bonus.
Visiting Iceland has been a dream of mine for a long while now. Your (Sheree’s) posts on Instagram about your travels to the country made me even more curious about it. When you first announced that you were thinking about offering a retreat in Iceland I knew (in my heart) that I was going.
We met two years ago when we were both chosen to be community leaders in one of Mara Glatzel’s Facebook groups. I admired your words of wisdom and your honesty in all of your posts and comments. It didn’t take long for me to become a fan of yours and it was so easy to say “yes” when you decided to offer this retreat.
8. What are you planning to offer to the Iceland Retreat. What plans have to put in place so far?
My intention is to offer yoga sessions that include asana (yoga postures and poses), breath work and meditation to help you cultivate self-awareness. The focus will be on simple, yet effective, things you can do to feel better, and be more connected to your body and breath.
I’m a certified Curvy Yoga Teacher too so everything I offer will be accessible for all shapes, all sizes and all abilities. Plus, everything is optional… you always have a choice.
The biggest compliment that I ever received was from a student who said she felt like I would be totally fine if she just wanted to hang out in savasana (corpse pose) for the entire time and listen to my voice. And I would! If that’s what she felt was best for her during our time together, I would have been delighted to offer her a safe space for her to take care of her needs.
My goal as a teacher is to offer sessions where you feel cared for, challenged, and help you learn how to honour your body at any given moment.
I expect to include some Reiki, restorative yoga, yoga nidra (yogic sleep), as well as some massage techniques that will help soothe any muscles that you may have newly discovered after one of our more active sessions.
The best thing I can say about what I’ll offer is that no previous experience is necessary. You don’t need a fancy wardrobe. Simply wear clothing you’re comfortable moving in and bring your curiosity.
9. Anything you’d like to add?
Is it June yet? I may be a wee bit excited for your retreat.
I’ve been thinking of 2018. I’ve been making plans. The New Year will see me visiting Iceland again for a few days. I’m hoping to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights. While on retreat in March in Pingeryi, I briefly got to witness some pale ivory lights by down the sea shore. Their movement was magical and sublime. I’m getting ready for more.
In preparation for the creative retreat planned for June, I’ve revisiting in January to complete the final touches also. As a means of getting me in the mood over Christmas, I’ve been creating an Iceland Oracle deck of cards through a course from Tara Leaver. These cards are linked in with #icelandinsights; a photo/ journal prompt challenge I’m running during the month of January.
I’ll be posting images and text each day during January 2018 on IG, Facebook, Twitter and here. And you are more than welcome to join me. Use the #icelandinsights and we’ll be able to find each other.
PhotoWalks, care of Vivienne McMasters, keep me sane. All I do is walk out there, with no aim in my feet, with my iPhone. And I pay attention. It takes me outside of me as well as inside of me. It sits me into my body. And I love them.
This morning took me towards the sea. My favourite walks are always by the sea.