The 23rd Psalm, translated by Nicole Alexander.

I allow myself to be held by the Universe,
I am enough.
The Universe makes me lie down on soft couches, covered with blankets,
Through libraries of ideas it leads me,
It sings me back to myself,
and pushes me to act with integrity in the name of greater truth.

Yes, though my path leads through thoughts so dark that I contemplate suicide
I shall harm neither myself nor others.
For the Universe is within me,
The training and calming of my mind, they comfort me.

Loving hands prepare feasts even as I face my ranting ego,
The Universe hands me weapons of love,
Knowing that I will emerge victorious.

I believe that the light of love shines through me while I walk here on Earth
And that my home in the Universe is eternal.

Based on the 23rd Psalm.
Adopted by Nicole Alexander, May 2017

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Being in Time

Time is a tool for acceptance and appreciation*

This quote started me thinking about what it is to be human on planet Earth. I also read in the news this week that astronomers have discovered other Earth-like planets. These planets, which may contain life, do not rotate. What would it be like I wondered to evolve on a planet where day (or night) were eternal and permanent? Imagine if there were no seasons, would one have a sense of the year(s) passing? Would one have a sense of time at all? And what are the advantages and downfalls of our sense of time?

Tool-use is one of the markers of humankind’s evolution and has lead to our extraordinary ability to control and manipulate our environments in pursuit of comfort and security. Progression from the first use of sharp rocks to scrape skins to computer systems that can mimic neural networks and learn can be used as a definition of what makes us human. Alongside these developments arise moral questioning as we wonder what it is to be human and worry that, in delegating some of that function to machines we will lose some essence of ourselves.

Maria Montessori in a critique of education claimed that education must inoculate against greed, laziness and our tendency to let machines do our work for us. She was speaking a hundred years ago, in the time before the Internet, smart phones, pocket calculators or typewriters. Our relationship to machines and tools is tempered by our love hate relationship to ‘the other.’

Time is a mental concept, a tool we have invented and continue to invent in response to the world in which we find ourselves. To live on Earth is to be a time-being and our individual and collective relationships to time reflect a love-hate dichotomy. We have invented time, yet we feel driven by it. We have become more accurate at measuring and marking the passing of time in the past two hundred years and every individual has access to multiple time alerting devices, from watches to alarm clocks, computers to reminder messages on our phones.

Yet spend a day with a child on their schedule or alone in nature and rhythms of time assert themselves in a way that is very different to our consciously timetabled lives. Time passes and we grow older in ways that are imperceptible from within. Children and trees grow, beloved pets live out their life span in fractions of ours, buildings rise and fall and time appears an inevitable fact of our lives. But I would argue that while on our planet the concept of time makes sense the kind of relationship we have with it is up to us.

Time, like any other tool can be used for good or evil. The best use I can make of it is to acknowledge the opportunities it offers for internal growth, for acceptance and appreciation of what is, has been and ever will be. We can see time as a God-like figure, directing us but perhaps by seeing beyond life on our planet we can arrive at a more nuanced understanding of time, appreciating time as a tool of our unique human situation.

*I came across this quote in some Harry Potter fan fiction by a writer calling herself Bec-Chan

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To have..To Be… To Have – A Poem

I Have… I Am … I Feel… I Can… I am learning to… I Have

I have depression.

I am intelligent, brave, loving and creative.

I am sensitive.

I feel like I’m worthless.

I can be my own worst enemy.

BUT

I can also recognize when I’m depressed.

I am learning to nourish my body, to listen to my soul, to respect my boundaries, to celebrate the good times and to let love in.

I have the opportunity to live an extraordinary life.

Here’s how you can write your own To Have.. to be.. To have

I have (challenge)

I am (list the 5 best things about yourself)

I Feel (write how you feel when you are confronted with this challenge)

I can (write what you have tried already that hasn’t helped)

BUT

I can (write one small step you can take now)

I am learning to (write five things you are learning that help)

I have the opportunity to…..

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A Chance to Choose

We NEED more self-directed learning in our schools – especially for boys!

When I was working as a Casual Relief Teacher today, teaching art I had a run in with a particular student, let’s just call him “J”

J’s grade 5 class were waiting outside the art room and were being a bit ratty.
I had just spend half of my 20 minute recess supervising classes that were trapped inside by the heavy rain. The kids desperately needed a chance to run around and the weather was grating on all our tempers, mine included.

I brought the class in, sat them down and explained what I expected a far as behaviour, in a nutshell, respectful listening, not talking when I was talking.

J was a persistent offender and my temper was already frayed. I felt the need to make an example of him and gave him a warning.

The class were at the tail end of a project inspired by Sidney Nolan’s Ned Kelly pictures and of course J was one of the students who had already finished. The alternate task of making a poster for the upcoming school fair clearly held no appeal for him. By the time the others had been working for 10 minutes he was roaming around the room causing trouble.

I felt like exploding and sending him out of the room but then I remembered that part of my ZONE OF GENIUS is outsmarting people who have worked themselves into dead-ends with their learning.

I called J over. He was pretty wary of me by that time.
I asked him what he WANTED to do with the session.
“Nothing” was his first reply.
I decided to level with him.
“Look J you’re really annoying me. But the thing is, I’m getting paid to be here. You could annoy me and I’ll go home at 3:30 and just forget about it. Or you could do something really cool with this time and I’ll go home and remember it. What would you LIKE to do with the rest of the time? You can use the resources we have here as long as you don’t use things other people need.”

J’s sullen face suddenly lit up.
“I’d like to make a giant Ned Kelly figure out of paper,” he volunteered.

So for the next half hour he worked away at this creation. When it was all laid out on the floor I suggested that he get some split pins to articulate the joints. He went and sourced this material from another teacher in the school, after working out how many he would need.

As the bell went he was putting the final touches on his creation which I stuck up on the board.

He had a choice. I had a choice. I’m pretty happy with the way things worked out.

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My drug of choice – Pr

Learning…Growth…this is what I value most about being a human being in this crazy world of ours.

I’ve been learning a lot about myself the past few months and I’ve noticed a theme. It’s AUTHORITY and my relationship to it.

What I’ve realised in the past few months is that I am learning to balance

INNER and OUTER authority.
Both are necessary and both are useful. When I give too much attention to my inner authority I can’t take in valuable information, tools and knowledge from other human beings walking this path called life with me.

When I give too much attention to outer authority, teachers, gurus, coaches, friends, family I lose my sense of what is important to me. This usually leads to me making choices that I regret.

Luckily I can then escape from the uncomfortable sensation of regret by blaming the person that I willingly gave away my authority to. It’s the perfect solution to all emotional pain (NOT!)

As my spiritual path I’m committed to acting in my integrity as much as possible. Giving away my power or shutting myself off from this things I need to learn is actually painful to me. The kind of painful that wakes me up 4am and bounces through my body with an intensity that I have trained myself to heed rather than ignore.

Letting go of life-long habits of self-degradation or stubborn arrogance has been testing my ability to be generous with myself. These habits have a familiar comfort to them even though I know through long acquaintance that these are habits of short-term gain at the expense of long-term pain.

Mental habits are just as addictive as drugs and lately I’ve been confronting my habit of giving away my personal power because of my desire for validation and approval.

I can see so clearly how this addiction was born in my high school years when my natural academic talents were rewarded with constant praise and recognition. Yet I never had to really struggle or work to earn this praise. So deep down I didn’t feel I had earned this praise.

I might not have felt I deserved the praise and recognition that my high marks attracted but I did come to rely on it. Without realising it I used praise to validate my existence. Praise from others, especially others in authority produced a dopamine hit in my brain. Praise and external validation became my drug.

Like any drug the effect lessened over time and I needed more and more praise more and more often from more and more people in order to get my ‘hit.’

Because no matter how much validation I get from outside it doesn’t change my inner story. Only I can make the choice to learn and grow. It’s a choice that I’m committed to making over and over again.

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Talking with MY Fearful Self

I’ve got so much going on in my body and mind at the moment.

I’m really negotiating the massive changes I invited into my life back in March.

I am being reminded of my arrogance or perhaps my innocence. When I made those changes and said I was willing to go into the void, to face not knowing. I really didn’t know how hard it would be.

I knew I was making a deliberate chance to experience a profound life transition. I wanted to apply my self-knowledge and acquired wisdom to this situation, one which had caused me the most stress in the past. I wanted a to allow myself to sit in the void of not knowing and trust by doing that I would learn more about myself.

I didn’t know that by doing this I would be calling up my 13-year-old self. She’s been really present for me since mid September, reminding me about the massive changes I went through at that age. My transition to a high school far away from home and going through puberty were massive changes and sometimes I felt like I just wanted a break. Sometimes I just wanted to stay under the covers and not face the day.

Recently my 13-year-old self has been reminding me of this time an asking me not to push myself so hard. So after really hustling to create Feel Real Heal I have been taking my foot off the accelerator and practicing patience. It’s been hard. What comes up most often is fear.

Fear came up big time for me last night. I went to bed early but I couldn’t sleep. I lay there and became aware of my fear. I started to have a conversation with it.
Actually not a conversation but a dialogue or dyad – a communication technique I’ve learned from meditation and self-development courses.

In a dyad there is a speaker who asks the same question over and over and simply listens and accepts the listener’s response without engaging.

Last night I felt my fear come up and decided to ask myself:

“What are you afraid of?”
I let a response arise from my fear, listened and accepted it.

I noticed how I wanted to jump in and comfort my fearful self by talking her out of each scenario she came up with.
But I didn’t engage, I just asked again.
“What are you afraid of?”

I noticed how many layers there were to my fear.
I’m afraid people won’t like me.

I’m afraid the business won’t make enough money.

I’m afraid I’ve made irreparable mistakes

I’m afraid I’m not loveable.

My fearful self had plenty to say.

I practiced listening until she had no more to say. Fear is a part of being human.

I haven’t got a magic wand to wave it away but I am learning to be with my own fear with compassion, acceptance and understanding.

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Embracing Fear

Embracing Fear

Fear… it’s a four-letter word that any human being understands. We know most of our fears are unfounded but that doesn’t stop us investing our time and energy worrying about them.

I used to identify as suffering from ‘anxiety.’ I spent years perfecting my natural ability to worry by dedicating hours to it. My preferred hours for this important work were the middle of the night, the very time when I needed rest and sleep. My worrying thoughts became an obsessive mind trap and eventually an illness.

This part of me will never go away but it no longer has the power to run my life. I’ve learned to love and appreciate the gifts fear brings without falling into its seductive arms.

My secret?

I’m willing to meet my fear.

This is confronting but ultimately puts me, not the fear in control.

I’m dancing a dance with uncertainty at the moment. By investing my time and money in this business, Feel Real Heal, I’m embarking on a path that is not only different from everything I’ve known but also everything my family stands for and understands.

Some days I feel like a fraud – how can I ask people to pay money for my expertise when it’s not backed up by a university degree?

Where are the safety and protocols in this undertaking?

Surely I should rely on a system devised by something bigger than my little tender self?

What if I lose all my money on this venture and end up with nothing to show for it?

I’m pretending to my parents that I know what I’m doing. They love me and they want me to be happy. Most people believe that the way to be happy is to avoid fear, not engage in conversation with it.

This is was what my fear said to me at 4am today:

I’m afraid I’m taking unnecessary risks.

I’m afraid that I’ll lose everything I’ve worked so hard to gain.

I’m not going to pretend anything to you, my clients.

You are the brave ones who’ve signed up to come on this journey with me.

You are the ones who see your own courage and determination reflected in my stories.

You are the ones who wake up at 2am, 3am, 4am worrying if you can do it and then get up in the morning and do it anyway.

You are the ones who are so committed to your growth and expansion that you are willing to push at your comfort zone.

You are warriors – Gentle, loving warriors.

To walk this path I invite you to love yourself more deeply, more fully and more tenderly with every passing day.

I encourage you to face your fear and move through it.

I ask you to let go of your stories that are holding you back.
I can’t pretend it’s easy.

I can’t pretend it’s safe.

I can’t pretend it’s guaranteed.

I can tell you that your dreams will come true… So start dreaming…

I’d love to know more about you.
I think you’re amazing.

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