Using all my bits to be immense

There is an incredible world out there, in the unseen, the unknown, the ether.  My imagination boggles at what it might be like, the realms where our super-conscious roams, where we are all connected, where there is no space or time, just (just?) an infinity of possibility and connection.

This is where my intuition goes to learn, or maybe it’s where my intuition exists, hanging out having tea with my higher self, idly thrusting little clues through the veil that separates the known from the unknown, a symbol, a moment of inspiration, a feeling to guide me.  I imagine a little sigh, or a chuckle as my higher self raises it’s infinity version of eyebrows at all the other higher selves it’s hanging out with before dunking an infinity version of a custard cream in an infinity version of a cuppa and going back to knowing everything and nothing in a very disconcerting way (I had a feeling I might go a little Terry Pratchett with this one).  Maybe they all raise their infinity version of eyebrows, all the connected souls of the universe having an ‘aw, bless’ moment at my cluelessness.

I love living life in this body of mine, experiencing the world in physical form, existing within those limitations of time and space that make rather wonderful things available to me.  Things like making love, smelling newly mown grass, eating cheesecake, cuddling children, sailing, getting a massage (note to self: get a massage)…(higher priority note to self, get a lover).  If all I did with this body was to enjoy one tender moment looking into my beloved’s eyes, receiving the touch of his fingers on my cheek, the gentlest of kisses connecting us, I feel it would be worth it as far as sensory experiences go.  Multiple daily experiences of touch, smell, taste, sight, sound and thought really up the ante.

The fact that my physical experience of life comes with the endless possibilities of the creative realm, that mad place where my infinitely-connected, etheric self is having tea and biscuits, just makes life rather fantastic.

All the possibilities of the unknown, the insights of intuition, the infinite potential of our creative genius and the limitless perspective of love are there for us to draw into our physical experience of life.  A resource that is always available, but which is nothing without a body through which we can bring our creativity and resourcefulness into the world in their physical form.  Our bodies can enjoy our sensory life, but to reach our full, creative potential we must overcome the separation that is a requirement of existence, and reach through that veil for input from our connected, infinite self.  Sure, that might involve our higher self raising its eyebrows in a slightly condescending way, but like a God, it knows it has no way to express itself without our physicality and will always play ball.

We are separate and connected, in bits and whole, body and spirit, and when we bring all of our self into play, we are immense.


Swimming My Sub-Conscious Mind

Today starts as a strange day.  I feel heavy, slow, reflective and sleepy.  I am inclined to chase this mood off with action, or worry about coming down with something.  Then I remember that I know this state, and I know what I need here.  I have slipped into a deep place of gentle receptivity.  I am in the creative zone of my feminine aspect, and something is coming.

It feels like I am sitting at the bottom of a deep, dark body of water.  The light is green and obscure, becoming denser dark in the distance.  The weight of the water around me is heavy, soft, holding.

There are shadows in the dark.  Large, threatening creatures with strong jaws and all seeing eyes.  Maybe one is swimming towards me now, muscles bunched for attack, movements sinewy and sure.  But this creature is my creation.  I know it well.  It has served me throughout my life, keeping me on the path of my understood version of what is, of who I believe I am.  Because I know it and see it, it now has no power, just a shadow in the dark that dissolves in my gaze, dropping the pearls it has been obscuring into my lap.

This is the realm of my sub-conscious mind, the home of my creations, and my connection to all creativity.  The work is done and the job now is not to dash in and find what I need, to thrash and splash my way forwards, stirring up silt, obscuring the creation that was just within grasp and sending me off to chase more shadows.  That’s the man within me, still trying to do it right, to act in the familiar ways that I believe get things done, to forge results in the hot fires of my yang energy.  To do well and receive the boost of recognition and validation that comes with compliance and busyness.  I have made things happen using that aspect of me, but I could never hold them together, and I ended up exhausted and sad.  I need him still, he is part of me too, but not today, today belongs to a quieter side of my creativity.

Something is coming to me, something I have, in my patience, created.  I don’t know what it is, but I know it will serve.  I don’t need to know why it is coming, my heart has called it to me.  I don’t need to know when it will arrive, it will be soon and I am ready.  I don’t need to know how, because we never do.  So now I wield the strength and power of my ability to exist in the unknown, where the magic happens, and in softness to receive that which is coming to me out of the dark.

In Praise of Rumpled Sexuality

Making a stand for sex and sailing is fun and simple, there’s a splash to it that my dramatic little heart rather loves.  There is rich complexity here too, however.  Depth and promise that go beyond the act of sex.  Beyond even lusting after Johnny Depp and George Clooney, although I’m very happy to keep them in the picture.

It’s all about definitions.  What is sexy?  I realised recently how much my perception of sexy has broadened, so when I say I want to make the world a sexier place it isn’t (just) about the loving act.  I have realised that people who live a life of conviction, from a place of truth and strength from within, have an appeal that goes beyond appearance.

Sir Ken Robinson, for example, is a sexy man.  Sir Ken is a very British educationist and inspiring author who now lives in the US. He is a man who sports more the air of a rumpled academic than your classic, sculpted Adonis.  Sir Ken is no silver-screen hero, his attractiveness comes from a deeper place within him, which is all to do with what he stands for rather than simply relying on how he looks.

Watching Ken’s fantastic TED Talk challenging the education system to embrace rather than kill creativity in our children, what you see is a normal, nice-looking man, with a hint of soft corduroy about him.  What you hear is a passionate and persuasive advocate for massive, mind-boggling change in education.  This is a man with a mission, someone who has uncovered the difference he wants to see in the world, and is stepping out to be that difference.  This is the essence of his sex appeal.  He almost crackles with the energy of his conviction. It is exciting and admirable, manly and reassuring, and then he laughs at himself about his need to focus when he’s frying an egg, and my knees buckle.  I no longer see corduroy and ‘nice’ I see leadership, I see courage, I see conviction and through those things, I see the essence of the man within.  This is a man who has no doubt had to take himself on in order to take on the world, and who, just for that, is worthy of a decent snog, although his wife might have a thing or two to say about that.

In recent years I have worked with many men who share the qualities Ken Robinson is living.  Not all of them are, as yet, riding the wave of success that living from truth and conviction so often creates.  Many have got as far as rolling up their trousers to paddle in the unfamiliar waters of their true nature and purpose.  Increasingly they are looking further out to sea, preparing to dive deeper, knowing they may feel out of their depth, but compelled to live a life of conviction whatever that takes.  Without exception, every man I have watched take to the water, has gained in stature, in solidity and in sex appeal as a result of their choice to bring the core of their essence and their purpose into the world.  Maybe it is the self-mastery that is required to still the voices of doubt within, or the growing confidence that comes with getting results from taking action and attracting increasing recognition and support.  Whatever it is, the men around me are getting sexier and I love it.

The world is in dire need of more sexiness.  I’m not talking about the vacuous and, god help us all, waxed sex appeal delivered though TV ads.  We need more of the solid, purposeful bone-melting sexiness of real, rumpled, men who have reached within to find the courage of their convictions and the confidence to make a stand for the truth that is within them.  When these men make that stand, as their friend, colleague or lover I have a part to play.  This is to leave them in no doubt that I admire and appreciate them, and that their sex appeal is on the up.  Think about it, if men started catching on that living their true purpose was sexy, wouldn’t the world rapidly start to be a better place?

Sex and Sailing

Sex and sailing.  It all comes down to this really.  The heart of my myth is that simple.  Around half a lifetime of experience (all being good, maybe a bit less if I stop drinking like a pirate), four years of challenging myself, giving myself over to my intuition, trying new things, learning about new passions, reflecting lots, freeing myself of the old and embracing the new, and that’s the beautiful core of what I’m about.

To date I’ve been rather more up front in this blog about my love of sailing than my love of sex.  What can I say? I’ve been feeling my way, finding my courage and my own voice of conviction.  There may be some relevance in the fact that I have regrettably chalked up more hours rolling around in boats than in beds in recent times, but nevertheless my reticence to date has more to do with caution than a lack of tales to tell.  Caution isn’t something I’m generally known for, but in this case I’m glad to have entertained it.  The time that I have sat with this has greatly clarified my intention and my purpose in opening up this conversation, as well as bringing me to a place where I simply can’t keep it within me.

The last five months have been a time of personal challenge, of grief and introspection.  Although the cause of that time remains painful, it has nevertheless given me room to reflect and the impetus to make some important choices about my future, about what I stand for.  If I have learnt anything in this time, it is the importance of creating our own story, standing up for what we believe and taking action to bring what we love to life.  I love sex (and sailing) and it is time for me to claim my purpose, to express my passion and engage my voice, the voice that each of us has within us, to explore and address one of the most important aspects of human life.

Sex is a beautiful, wonderful and I fear often mismanaged area of human interaction and potential.  It is a meeting place, a place of love and intimacy, of fun, of incredible pleasure, of connection and of deep creative power.  Sex is also sadly a place of darkness, of power games, of violence, of judgement and shame.  Sex is a powerful indicator of the state of play between man and woman*.  At the micro level sex is one of the first things to be sacrificed within a relationship that is not flourishing.  At the macro level It shows us, through common attitudes and prejudices, social convention and quality of conversation whether or not, as men and women we are engaging with ourselves and each other with the full joy, power and creativity of which we are, each and every one of us, capable.

My choice now is to direct my energy, my skills, my passion and commitment to making the world a sexier place.  A sexier place with boats.

* A major aspect of my interest in sex is in the broader play between masculine and feminine in individuals, in relationships, in business, in government, in communities.  My own experience and insights are those of a heterosexual woman, and much of my language and focus will reflect that.  I believe this conversation is equally valid for gay as for straight people, and welcome input from those with other experiences and perspectives than my own.

Life’s Precious Pearls

Pearls are a bit of an intuitive theme right now; the pirate girl, dreaming of treasure. Pearls of wisdom, pearls of wealth, the grain within pearls; seeds of ideas that grow and shine as you sit with them and let them agitate within you until they become unique and beautiful.

My current challenge from a mythical collaborator is to share my pearls as they come, short, sweet, uncensored.

What jumped out today is how often the gems of life come from its simplicity; from little, living moments in time. We never know what of our own experience will inspire but usually I find it is the simple stuff that shines most brightly, lighting up your own day, or illuminating another person’s thinking. These little thoughts, based on real living, nestle within, gleaming and bright, showing us how amazing life is simply because its deepest lessons can come in any moment, any interaction, any view, any minute of reflection or experience.

The other day I took some time to sit outside a pub, enjoying a naughty pre-sun-over-yard-arm pint, mulling over my new business plans and absorbing Brighton revelling in the delayed spring. Nothing was significantly different, the worries I have been experiencing remained in the background, but nothing could diminish the lustrous gift of being where and who I was, of the choice of being that I had made. All the joy of life seemed to condense into that half hour, a gift and an inspiration that has stayed with me all week. Very quickly, rather than stick with business thinking, I found myself writing a quick letter to my Dad to let him know I’ve been thinking of him. Another simple and precious pearl.

Such moments can easily get hidden in the messy straw of busy lives, in the scurry and scratchiness of making ends meet, of our obligations and duties, our worries and concerns. But it’s simple if we let it be. When we indulge in small moments of pleasure, when we fully live in the enjoyment of every day things, we are sharing in the treasure of life and nourishing the seeds of new pearls within us.

The Spirit of Adventure and its Treasures

I write this at the close of my most recent voyage of discovery, crewing Soteria, a classic, wooden two-master, from Fowey in Cornwall to La Gomera in the Canaries, via the Bay of Biscay in storm season, with stops in mainland Spain, Portugal and Madeira.

The trip contained everything my adventurous pirate heart could wish for, except for copious quantities of rum – I guess that’s what you get for signing up to crew a dry boat. I knew there was a flaw in the plan. There’s always a flaw in the plan. Why do I keep trying to make a plan? Never have I felt more connected to my alter ego Captain Jack Sparrow in his mournful observation “Why is the rum always gone?” In this case, it’s particularly always gone when it never even existed in the first place. But, stepping away from the non-existent rum bottle, back to adventure.

It started with a storm in the Bay of Biscay. Any sailor knows about Biscay and what it can offer and I became particularly aware of this on discovering that you have to have special insurance to sail after September. A small detail that became increasingly more significant as our departure date slipped well into October. Biscay didn’t disappoint, with winds gusting at force 10, towering black waves, a helm with a mind of its own, a galley (muggins here was one of the two main cooks for 12 starving sailors) which seemed intent on bucking me off my feet or pitching me directly into the oven. The saloon had definite overtones of Hades in the wet season in it’s chaos as night watches changed over; wet weather gear hanging everywhere, damp sailors sleeping anywhere they could due to water-logged bunks, water running in rivulets through various cracks and crannies. You’re getting the generally soggy theme of it?

In fact, I loved sailing the storm, with some serious reservations about the wisdom of my two attempts to sever my connection with the boat and enter the watery and fairly terminal embrace of the Atlantic. My first effort left me hanging doggedly from a rope along the boom as my feet, which had been firmly planted on deck, suddenly dangled over nothing but churning, terrifying water as the boat heeled over. Shortly afterwards I found myself clinging onto something, quite possibly the beard of one of my crewmates, to resist the efforts of a wave that had broken over our bows to re-unite itself, and me with it, with the awfully big, drowny body of water it calls home. These events left me with very wobbly knees, a fine appreciation of my pirate-like, tenacious grip on life and a mental note to self to not be such a complete numpty in the future, and clip on.

Further adventures followed as they do at sea, interesting encounters in foreign ports, new foods, including some particularly grim combinations of cold cans when we ran out of gas and finally being becalmed and swimming above thousands of feet of water in the Atlantic. The swim was utterly magical, until someone idly wondered just how many miles of water there were under my careless toes, at which point, being back on deck suddenly seemed like the attractive option.

Not all of the adventurous possibilities of sailing come from physical action. One of sailing’s greatest gifts comes from its ability to bring you slap, bang up against yourself, and the opportunity to fully experience being cell-tinglingly alive in every moment. This aspect of sailing isn’t as good for toning as the physicality of hoisting, and pulling things, such as the aforementioned crewmates’ beards, but it is certainly food for my soul.

There is a quality to life at sea that makes it so easy to succumb to full appreciation and receptivity. From stunning sunsets and sunrises to the stately, wheeling progression of a ridiculously impossible array of stars at night, reflected by the magic of a phosphorescent universe below. Other beings that we meet inspire awe and gratitude, from muscular, racing dolphins to ponderously huffing pilot whales, even once a little sea bird that seemed to be very happy keeping it’s new, very big mate company, swimming companionably alongside us as we ambled along at 0.0 knots.

Being on the sea does something to the soul. You can’t help but be present in the moment, fully appreciative and alive to the beauty of what’s around you, and the reality of what might need attention. Maybe that’s why sailors are on the whole such a great bunch of people. There is a mixed quality of presence, of practicality and of romanticism in many sailors. Add a sense of humour and even just a dash of sexiness in a man, mix it together in a boat and I’m salivating and ready for dinner. You can see why my own dashing pirate remains somewhat elusive – a lolling tongue and drooling mouth isn’t a good look anywhere, even out of sight of land and civilisation.

When you decide to, it’s easy to take yourself on an adventure. You find something a tiny part of you would love to do, which the more vociferous aspect of your nature absolutely refuses to do on account of the fact that it’s clearly insane, and you go and do it. I re-found my own sense of adventure in my 40s. I think I might have dropped it down the back of the sofa that I spent too much time on in my 30s, and it took a bit of a full on spring clean to unearth it, along with a load of copper coins and a dusty ear plug. With a little practice, here I am now, 46 and living a life on the seas of the world, and on a voyage of infinite possibility discovering the unchartered realms of my heart and that.

As a regular adventurer, I am aware that it is also possible to disconnect from what is most important in life by taking yourself on journeys. The constant seeking of the new can become a way of avoiding the intimacy, depth of experience and connection that is such an important part of a life well lived. Sailing as an activity can take me very aloof from the world, yet by it’s very nature, receiving what is moment by moment, it also brings me into close connection with what I most value about life.

In this last voyage, my greatest treasure was in moments on night watch when I felt, in my missing of family and friends, a deep connection with them, and a dizzy sense of gratitude that I have this rich and bright thing at the centre of my crazily swinging compass. I want more of the vivid experience of physical adventures, the immediacy of a life lived with spirit. I choose this as part of a greater whole that is about being awake to the possibility for greater intimacy, openness and love in the moment. After all, we just don’t know where, or with whom, our greatest adventures start and it would be a shame to miss something beautiful that presents in the moment, because I have my telescope too firmly fixed on a distant horizon.

Swimming in water 4 miles deep while becalmed

Jumping in to 4 miles of water while becalmed in the Atlantic

Storms can be fun, but they play havoc with your hair - as do violent crewmates

Biscay Hair – Storms can be fun, but they play havoc with your hair – as do violent crewmates

Sunset and sea inspired happiness

Sunset and sea-inspired happiness

The Freedom of Wind and Tide

My maritime adventure is once again alive and kicking as I write from my funny squidged up bunk on a lovely old schooner, Soteria. I am jammed in with suitcases, sails and the horror that is ‘the locker under bunk one’ right in the bow of the boat (pointy end). If anyone needs anything that’s likely to be in there, they generally only find the courage to tackle the piled up layers of sails and other paraphernalia, with a strong cuppa and lots of gentle encouragement, followed by a counselling session on their emergence. One of the delights of life on board a working boat.

My crew mates are around the boat, washing up, sorting out bilge pump problems (I’ve cannily stayed away from that one, knowing that boys like to meet the challenge of this sort of thing and I shouldn’t dilute their fun), humming while sorting and tidying gear. Outside, St. Peter Port in Guernsey, where we are docked, is shaded in a deep, damp sea mist punctured only by the soul cry of a foghorn.

This voyage has been an adventurous sailing experience, from La Coruña in North West Spain, across the Bay of Biscay and over to the Channel Islands en route to Weymouth. We have been carried here on this wonderful, old, wooden two-master whose name means ‘salvation’, or, in its shortened form of Soté, ‘to be made free’. We are embracing traditional sailing in honour of the age and nature of the boat, and a slight lack of engine power due to a gear box failure. It has given the journey an elemental simplicity – if it doesn’t work with the wind and tide, we can’t do it. It has also given me the odd moment of idly wondering whether we might end up needing more salvation than is entirely healthy.

Zooming towards the coast on our way (theoretically) in to port at Roscoff I uttered the fatal words “I think we’re all going to get a full night’s sleep in the marina,” which was of course the cue for the wind to relax to a whisper. My watch started at 6am, with us in almost exactly the same spot as when I had gone to sleep. And then, bless it, the wind woke up again all rested and feisty and ready to give its all to blowing in completely the wrong direction for us. Suddenly it was all hands on deck and all macs on backs, to tack and tack into wind and rain to try and make the entrance while avoiding the dark, pointy rocks lining our route in.

Three hours later we were finally almost within touching distance of the marina only to be met by a puzzled Harbour Master asking if we were lost. It turns out we were.  The actual harbour entrance he pointed out (built after the charts were created) was absolutely inaccessible to a boat without engine power with the wind we had. Our only option was to turn around and whoosh out of the bay that had held us captive over long hours, and follow the wind to the Channel Islands. You’ve got to laugh innit?

It had been a hard, but exhilarating morning and very, very good for toning my incipient (or possibly actual) bingo wings. It also resulted in one of the most glorious afternoons of sailing that I have ever experienced; bright sun on a white-capped, surging and profoundly deep blue sea. The waves rolled through from behind us, as did the wind, urging us speedily on to Guernsey, a very interesting, slightly lucky, engineless docking experience and a few gratefully received days of still land, pubs and watch-free nights.

It seemed to take forever for this voyage to come into being for me. I had spent such a long time feeling landlocked and blocked in following my desire to live life on the water. I am experimenting in following the energy of what pulls me towards my end results, rather than pushing and forcing things. The way this comes up for me is to really listen for warm and resonant invitations and see where they take me. This one took a while to come and it was so hard not to push, to strive and force something to happen. It was worth waiting for.
Having done some crewing with just myself and the owner/skipper, I really felt I wanted the broader support of being part of a bigger crew. Suddenly there was a wonderfully warm email from Vicky (Soteria’s owner), desperate for crew to get her back to the UK for engine repairs. Before I knew it, with some fantastic support from friends and family, I was suddenly in Spain – a country I love and have missed – and joining a new crew for an exciting experience on a classic and classy boat.

Four solid days of sailing put me right into the heart of what I love doing. It can be tough, getting up for night watch, dealing with the weather and getting to know people under demanding circumstances. But after a while the watches flow, the days and the nights segue into each other, strangers become crew mates who know how you like your tea, sleep comes easily and food tastes wondrous. Always and endlessly there is the sea and the sky, joined by a delightful vessel that responds to your needs and to your attention, and surges through the waves with elegance and determination.

A friend recently reminded me of Joseph Campbell who said that if the path ahead of you is clear, it probably isn’t your path. I don’t know where my journey with the sea will take me, and the level of my cluelessness in this indicates that this is definitely my very own obscure and adventurous pathway. I continue on it in the confidence that so far it has only taken me to wonderful places where I wanted to be, and the freedom of Soteria certainly counts as one of them.