How To Love Your Darkness.

There is a time and season for negativity. I absolutely believe this. There’s a place for seeing things cynically and refusing to be cheered with platitudes and cliches. If you’re experiencing a period where your perspective is decidedly blunt and pessimistic, and you can’t see any good reason to change it, good for you. And I mean that.

Go with it. I often do. I especially found this empowering when I was recovering through cancer and treatment. Fuck all that positive thinking. Fuck all those sunshiney exhortations to just think positive. I didn’t want to be happy and just think positive. I needed to get down with my black thoughts and face off with it all. I didn’t want to make nice for others, or talk myself out of my fears. I needed to go with them down the rabbit hole and see where and what they led to.

It did me good. I’ve seen my dark side and my rock bottom. I hit it arse first and sat there with it, swearing and being a cynical shit and refusing to be cheered up or pulled out of it. I lived in a dark place for a long time, made friends with death and dying, became acquainted with worst possible case scenarios like you might a peculiar new neighbor, and learned they weren’t that scary or peculiar after all. I learned this about my worst case scenarios – sometimes they happen, and when they do, I can do them. I can go there. I am strong. I am smart. I’m also allowed to be scared, cry and fall apart. But I know what to do when they happen. Because I went there. Because I refused to talk myself happy or only think positive.

Truth is, we don’t always get the sunny outcome we are praying for. Positive thoughts have their time and place. But so does your melancholy. Just feel it all. Truly, that’s my advice to my friends who are going through cancer, or loving an addict, or being an addict, or breaking up a relationship, or watching someone slip away. Feel it all. Don’t be afraid. Love all the parts of you, even your cranky, negative, cynical side. It’s still you. However, be careful not to use your negativity to hurt others. Don’t become a bully, or a jerk, to your friends and community. Some won’t cope with your negativity, but lots of them will love it easily. Let them do it. Let them help you love the dark places in you. Love them into the light.

May you be loved into the light today, sweet friend.

The Essence Of Brave.

Understand then, my dear one, the very essence of brave is seeing and truly understanding there Printis no lack in you. You are abundant, you are good, and you are more than enough. You are not weak, you are not unknowing, and you are not powerless. All that stands between you moving forward and you standing still are the beliefs you hold about what you are and what you are not.

What changed, sweetheart, do you think? What happened to make you believe you were the emptiness instead of the sweet wonder that fills it? What went wrong to move you from believing you mattered to believing you did not matter?

Perhaps the question I need to ask is, what is the matter? What is it, my dear heart, if it is not you?

You matter. You are matter. You are not the emptiness requiring to be filled. You are not lack. You are not a space waiting to be occupied by something or someone outside of you. You are the answer to empty space. You are art filling the paper, words filling a page. You are not the empty arms; you are the exuberant love that runs into them. You are the abundance of cycles of living and dying and seasons and weather and seeds and weeds and work and rest turning wastelands into gardens. You are not the void God spoke life into – you are life.

You do not lack anything you need, my love. It is all with you, now.

What would it take for you to dance into the room, jump into the puddle, paint the canvas, create the space, use your voice, take the ground, listen to your gut, be truly content? This is what brave is. It’s taking the empty space you believed was you, and filling it with you, in whatever sphere you find yourself in where you feel you are not enough, or are too much.

It’s coming to and into yourself fully as the answer to every question you believed you needed something or someone outside of you to solve.

It’s ceasing to ask, “What is the matter with me?” instead affirming, “I matter.” There can be no matter with you, if you are matter. If you are matter, all you need is with you. You need only breathe life into yourself, as God breathed life at the first, into the first. Breathe into yourself, my love.

Wake up.

Perfect love casts out fear.

You will cast out fear like a an artist casts out a brush without suppleness. As a writer casts aside 12742504_1036715449707878_567661044966021180_na pen that no longer writes. With thanks, for the service it provided thus far. Thank you fear, for the safety and security you gave me. Thank you for helping me in your own way. But you no longer serve me as I need you to. I am not attached to fear, any more than I’m attached to the plate I ate my last meal from, or the flowers than grew in my garden last year. That time has passed. It’s time to go forward now. Love your fear, be grateful for it. Love it, and love it perfectly. Perfect love does not hold on to its object. Perfect love lets go.

What would it take to have a perfect love for you?

Perfect love casts out fear.12801271_1036674239711999_1550217587317067156_n

And it does, you know.

Do you know how something gets to be perfect? Of course you do. Practice.

Just as our fear was perfected in us through our practice of it, so will be our love.

Practice fear? Did I ever? Who, me?

Yes, love, you.

When you learned to worry about going new places, adopting the cautious apprehension of your caregivers who tried to stay close to home as possible and did not like to vacation or venture anywhere new or uncomfortable or different. When you began to hate change and avoid it at all costs, equating it with the beginning of the end of the world, it was then. That’s when you perfected your fear through practice.

When you convinced yourself familiarity was safer and better and worth more than peace and health and independence, if it meant being alone. When you compromised, settled. When you held on even when all indications were letting go would end your pain, end the lessening and oppression or your spirit, mind and soul. When you did it again, then again. You perfected your fear through practice.

When you learned to recognise all those who need be referred to as “others”, and those who ought to be considered one of “us”, adopting the exclusion and inclusion habits of your peers and the tribe. When you learned the names and the jeers and the labels, and you applied them to yourself as often as to others. When it became a habit to see the differences between people, rather than recognise all are connected. You did it. You perfected your fear through practice.

When you hoarded and collected and protected and defended and fortified and piled up and locked away and accumulated and called your own that which was not you, not part of you, and would not help, heal, save or redeem you. When you felt deeply you were defined by what you owned. You perfected your fear through practice.

When you believed God was going to get you in the end for the things only He knew you did in the dark, in secret. When you warned others of their similar fate and felt it was your duty to so do. You perfected your fear through practice.

When you heard the voice in your head demand to know “Just who do you think you are?” whenever you began some deeply spiritual or creative work, or even some frivolous fun thing that didn’t even matter, or perhaps whenever you suspected you held the key to your own healing, or felt you had a thing of significance to share with another. And you believed that cynical voice of resistance that interrupted every brave attempt at growth and change was you, and was from you, and could be trusted and believed. You perfected your fear through practice.

When you dropped the brush, put down the pen, took the key from the ignition, unpacked the bag, threw away the application, resigned from the course, told yourself “it’s too much money to spend on me”. When you mistook the inner critic for the voice of reason. You perfected your fear through practice.

Yes, my love, your fear is almost completely perfected. You’ve been at it for years.

But all is not lost.

Perfect love casts out all fear. Casts it out. Like old rubbish. Like too many sweaters from a crowded closet. Like too many cans from a cramped pantry. Like lies are thrown from the presence of truth. Like hecklers are thrown from a theatre. Out you go – you don’t belong here. Take your impolite, boring nonsense from the room. Fear bluffs it’s way in with weighty talk and scary threats which sound like authority and feel like truth. But fear did not pay its dues. Love bought a ticket. Love paid the price.

If only you would practice love until it was as perfect as your fear has become. What would it take, for you to practice love for your own behalf as relentlessly and faithfully as you’ve dedicated yourself to fear? What would it take, my darling? Would you try? Will you?

Perfect love casts out all fear. You can’t scare yourself out of being afraid, out of resistance. You have to love yourself out of it. Love yourself through it. This means rather than hating on your fear, hating yourself because you have it, gathering it up in your arms, laughing and tossing it in the air. It means knowing the voice of resistance is not your voice – rather, you are the one who witnesses resistance, who observes your fear. And if you are the witness, the observer of your fear and resistance, then it cannot be you who is afraid. You have fear, but it does not have you. And you can love the part of you that feels the fear, and reassure it, and have compassion on it. And you can support that part of you to keep on moving, towards healing and growing and changing, even with the fear, if you must. And as you perfect this love, the fear will be cast out, not like a demon, but like the annex, the accoutrement it is; a part of you who is afraid of change, who mocks to make itself feel bigger, who bluffs to convince you it has authority and weight. But who is a wisp of a thing in reality.

You will cast out fear like a an artist casts out a brush without suppleness. As a writer casts aside a pen that no longer writes. With thanks, for the service it provided thus far. Thank you fear, for the safety and security you gave me. Thank you for helping me in your own way. But you no longer serve me as I need you to. I am not attached to fear, any more than I’m attached to the plate I ate my last meal from, or the flowers than grew in my garden last year. That time has passed. It’s time to go forward now. Love your fear, be grateful for it. Love it, and love it perfectly. Perfect love does not hold on to its object. Perfect love lets go.

Love your fear, with compassion, as a witness, and not as its owner, master, servant or slave. Love your fear, and don’t despise it as a combatant, or opponent would. Love your fear, laugh at it, with it, like that heckler in the theatre, and let it go, show it the door. Perhaps it served you once, but it can no longer. It did, you know, for a time, keep you company like a friend. But it’s time for it to go.

Practice love as devotedly as you did your fear, my dear. Practice love like a beloved nocturne, like a favourite verse of a special song, like one foot in front of the other at the same time every day, until the walk becomes a mile, becomes a day and another day, and before you know it, love is just what you do, the way fear used to be. But you don’t do that anymore. You do this now. Perfect love. Practice makes perfect.

Perfect love casts out all fear.

What would it take for you to have a perfect love, for you? Practice, my love. It’s time to begin.

Love, Jo xxxx

The best is yet to come!

Bill Gates said, “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”

This is five years work for me. Three books of my own. Three books with others.

And several more I watched being born and make their way into the world.

I have felt at times like I’ve accomplished so little. But here’s the evidence of what’s possible in just five years.

And the best is yet to come.

A colouring book just completed. Small and Pure due out in May. Another colouring workbook soon. And three more books before Christmas.

A body of work to be proud of.

What could you achieve in a year, five years, ten years, if you were willing to overcome resistance and put your butt in the chair and do the work?

All these books available on Amazon. And I’m available for creative and spiritual coaching and direction.

Visit my coaching page, or browse my Store ?

Working on what makes your heart happy.

Since I quit working for someone else and started focusing on my writing and art full time, I’ve found myself stumbling over the words to say to people when they ask, “So, what are you doing now you’re not working?”

Thing is, I am working. I am working on making my heart happy.

Years of doing what makes me frustrated, ego-centered, stressed and anxiety-riddled has taught me what not to do to help my heart be at peace. A heart that’s at peace allows itself to do the healing it needs, and looks for people to love and be loved by. A heart that’s filled with fear, clinging, stress, worry, fatigue and clamouring closes itself to all those things. It cannot grow, it cannot heal, it cannot allow itself to wander into uncharted relational or spiritual territory. Stressed people are often unkind, not because they are bad or evil, but because a heart that’s tethered to causes motivated by fear will feel small and weak, and always on the defense against attack. Conversely, the heart that floats on the river of loving and peaceful intention will be soft yet brave, warm yet robust, centered yet flowing.

So, knowing this, and sick to the gills with seeking to allay fear rather than rest and trust, both in my own capacity and goodness, and that of Source, I’m done with “work”. I’m finished with the toil of having enough before I rest, of making myself feel less vulnerable and more perfect, with holding on and gathering and hoarding and owning and clinging.

Now, my work is to do daily what makes my heart happy.

They say do what you love and the money will come. But deeply we understand if we do what we love, a whole lot more than that comes too. And just as if we want to be paid we have to send an invoice, so it is with spiritual exchange. I serve with my work of making myself happy, letting go of attachments and leading my heart to peaceful places of growth and healing and joy, and when the time is right, I send the invoice. And Source sets right all accounts. I am safe, all is well, and all my needs are provided for.

Beginning the work of making our heart happy can commence at any time. I’m not suggesting you stop working at your job – we all must pay our rent, metaphysical and otherwise. However, don’t wait until you have enough, or have achieved enough, before you let your heart wander wild. I’m here to tell you the fettered heart won’t want to stay here long. It will seek respite from whence it came, sooner or later, if you will not let it rest.

I learned this a few years ago when my heart literally grew a huge cancer tumour around it, and my body decided where ever the hell I was going in life, it wasn’t coming.

Listen. Your body speaks. Your heart knows.

I pray today you will take one moment to listen to your heart and ask it sweetly and with compassion what would make it happy. I pray you’ll sweep it up into your arms and hold it until it ceases it’s trembling and striving, and becomes warm and receiving of your touch and your voice. I pray you’ll carry your heart on your shoulders so it can see the world and realize how beautiful it all is. I pray your heart will find its way to happiness, and that way will be through you, and always, because of you.

Selah, dear friends.
Love, Jo xxx

2016 – A year for risk, change and success!

Folks who have been following my page will remember late last year I began sharing a little bit about my upcoming project, The Book Of The Brave. My plan was to have the book written and released very late in 2015. So what happened?

Well, working two jobs and not setting enough time aside for the process happened.

But The Book Of The Brave is coming. She has been waiting patiently whilst I quit my jobs and clear the decks of all the clutter and excuses. And she has two sisters; Do Awesome Broken, and another project which has yet to reveal her name to me.

Yes, three books, all to be released this year.

I also have two colouring workbooks on the way. One is based on my clip art collection of a few years ago, and the other is based on my Grateful Mandala artwork from last year. Very excited about that one!

And most thrilling of all, my picture book for grown up women about identity, authenticity and our true names is released by Rhiza Press in May. I am ecstatic to bring you the story of Small and Pure. She is so wanting you to know her story, and I’m so humbled the wonderful team at Rhiza are helping bring her into the world.

So 2016 is huge! No time for messing about! It’s all about to happen, folks!

Thanks for your ongoing support, I truly appreciate you and can’t wait to show you all these wonderful stories and projects.

Love, Jo xxx

Your Love Is Enough.

You think you are not loved. You think you could not possibly be, because you are not seen. No one sees the real you, so how could anyone love the real you?

The truth is, you are very good at hiding. You are very good at not showing your true face, your true self. You’re an expert at talking the talk and projecting the image you want others to believe. Except you don’t, do you? You don’t really want them to believe it. You are hoping someone, the next one, this one, will be the one to see the true you. The real you. You hope someone will come along who will put in the time and the effort it would take to see who you really are. Someone who will break through the bulls***t and see you, really see you. And unless someone is that one, unless you feel seen and heard by them, you have an excuse to reject them. You have an excuse to keep hiding. You have a reason to continue being invulnerable and inauthentic. They didn’t put in the effort. They won’t do the work loving and knowing me requires. They are not worthy of my true, unique self. I will keep hiding.

I will keep safe behind the talk and the face. I’ll keep fleshing out my body, creating more barriers between me and the world. I’ll keep arguing, keep seeking out the same roles that make me appear the way I wish to be seen. I’ll keep feigning strength, feigning madness, feigning misfortune, feigning success, feigning brilliance, feigning foolishness. I’ll keep identifying with anything other than who and what I really am, until the one comes. The one who can truly see, the one who will truly know. The one I can trust. The one who loves me.

I’ll know they are a true friend, a true lover, a true pastor, a true professional, a true neighbour, a true person, because they will take the time and make the effort through all my body of work, beyond the fort and the barbed wire and the bridge and the wall and the ditches and the paths that lead nowhere, to me.

And in this way, you are able to convince yourself nobody is worthy of your trust. Nobody is worthy to be trusted. You know this, because nobody will do the work you’ve set them. People approach, and stand at the entry to your labyrinth unaware there is a gate before them. They don’t realise they are being tested, and when they walk away, baffled by your signals and ignorant to your secret codes, you are able to dismiss them. If they were true, if they were worthy, if they were the one, they would’ve seen the signs. They would’ve tried harder. They would’ve just known what to do.

It’s a lonely life, isn’t it, dear one?

Here’s the thing, my darling.

You are not the only one with pain. We all bear a great burden of pain. Some of us know it, see it, deal with it. Some of us do not. But that pain often blinds us, keeps us too busy to do the complex work others set us. Your assessments and entry requirements are simply too hard for others. They will never be able to take on all your pain, because they are carrying their own.

People do not enter your labyrinth to find you, they do not scale your walls or fill in your trenches, not because they do not love you, or love well enough, but because the work of love is not about taking the tests others set for us to prove our love is good. Love is good. It just is. That’s how you’ll know it is love. Not because it is enough, but because it is good.

You want others to prove to you their love is strong enough, hard enough, true enough, tough enough, gracious enough, energetic enough, flexible enough, enduring enough. Good enough. Sooner or later we must simply allow the love others are capable of giving to us.

And we must allow the love we are capable of giving to ourselves.

The love that will heal you will not come through your walls, down the labyrinth, under your shell. The love that will heal you comes from within you.

We accept the love we think we deserve. What happened to you, that you believe any love you have for yourself is not good, not enough?

Will you accept your own love, little one? Will you allow your self to be the one who says you are perfect and right and good? Will you cease the endless seeking for the love that tries hard enough, proves itself to you, shows itself to be bigger and wider and stronger than any defense you can throw up, in order than you may feel worthy of it? The big love, the love big enough to do that, will never, ever come along, my little love. You must give it to you. You must be it to you.

You are enough to love you.

Me, God, and the Moon.

“At night, I open the window and ask the moon to come and press its face against mine. Breathe into me. Close the language-door and open the love-window. The moon won’t use the door, only the window.” – Rumi

When I was four, I would sit in my bed and gaze up at the moon and feel God see me.

It is said the sun sees our body, but the moon sees our soul. When I was that very small girl, the light of the moon woke me up to the fact I had a soul, and it could be seen and known, by me, and by God.

And it, and I, and God, were good.

All my life, my spirituality has had its source in the silent, joyous conversations I had with God as a tiny child under the light of the full moon. I never doubted the conversations were real, nor doubted God was. I did not grow up in a believing or church-going family. I was not churched, nor did I know how to pray. But I knew how to believe, and so I did. Believing God was, and that I was loved and seen, right through to my little white bones was as natural as breathing.

Spiritual searching and yearnings of my heart and a need to belong led me in search of God-people. I had many years, most very happy, amongst those tribes. But then, to my surprise, I was led behind the safety and security of the tribes into the wilds, a place I’d never know, a place I feared God would not follow me.

But the moon, ever my brother, mother and teacher, taught me a precious truth. Just as the constant moon in the night sky can be found ever at my shoulder, no matter where I turn, so is my God in my sojourn through with wilds.

And just as I do not despair on moonless nights, so I don’t despair in seemingly Godless ones. For like the moon, God never truly disappears or leaves us. God is simply out of our sight for a time. If we are patient, and prepared to sit with a little darkness, God appears to us once more, and ever after.

No one can make me believe there is no God. Don’t try. I was convinced of God before I knew the earth was round, that I needed oxygen to live, before I could read, and way before I knew there was such a thing as the Bible or shame or heaven or hell.

God saw me when I was but a few days along the road in my spiritual journey, and said, little Small and Pure, you are Very Good.

I am, still. Always was. Always will be. So are you. We are born good, and God always sees us this way.

When I see the full moon, it reminds me the spiritual journey is all about believing that with all of our heart again.

Selah, my friends.
Jo xxx