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

Mama Muse, and the Orphans in the Creativity Minivan.

When it comes to where I spend my time and energy artistically, I love to just take to the road.

I got this old minivan, see? I’m behind the wheel, driving, and beside me sits my trusty navigator, Creativity.

We are not alone. We have this bunch of feelings, thoughts and emotions who always want to come along too.

But we don’t let them up front with us. All those fears, resistance and ego must take a back seat.

After a while, like clockwork, the complaints and whining start up back there. In fact, no matter where Creativity leads us, and I drive us, they always start up.

Whatcha doin’ that for?

Why do ya wanna do that weird thing?

Dontcha know people will think you’re crazy?

Who do you think you are?

I don’t wanna do this!

I wanna do something familiar! Something people will like! I wanna do something I know how to do!

I wanna GO HOME!

And when this happens – and it always happens – I pull the minivan to the side of the road, I get back there amongst the fit-pitchin’ and the whining’, and I give them all a hug and tell them everything is perfectly okay.

Shhhhh, now, little babies. Everything is going to be all right.

Then, I get back behind the wheel, strap myself in, and pull my minivan back on the road.

I give Creativity a wink, and then I floor it.

Come on, you bunch of wildlings, let’s go!

As my amazing friend Jo and I were discussing just this morning, fears and resistance make interesting back seat passengers, but lousy navigators.

Give them your most tender compassion and reassurance, but when it comes to setting your course, listen to Creativity. You’ll be scared out of your wits mostly. But she’s braver, smarter, and knows how to have a lot more fun.

Get to it!

Have a great weekend, lovelies.
Jo xxx

Thank you.

Writing. Mostly I’m so glad I worked out this is my thing. Sometimes, I wonder. It’s been the source of some of the highest highlights of my life.

Opening a box of books with my name on the cover.

Becoming part of a writing community of people I respect and admire, and feeling respected and admired right back.

Getting published in places I could’ve only dreamed of.

Having a voice that is listened to on issues that matter to me, and matter in the world.

Spending a huge portion of my life doing what I’m great at, experiencing the magic of making something come from nothing, knowing the something is good and makes a difference.

Getting feedback from someone when my writing has touched them. Changed them.

Impacting peoples lives for good. Impacting them at all.

These parts are wonderful. But writing has also been the source of some of my darkest moments and deepest hurts.

Rejection after rejection after rejection from editors and publishers and agents in pursuit of reaching more people, and trying to make a living from what I love.

Mostly not being paid for hours and hours of work.

Being promised things by people who have the power to take your writing where you want it to go, only to find the promising you things was something that person does to feel powerful, and was not an actual thing they ever intended to do. In other words, being let down.

Having people close doors on you because of things you’ve written, because you told the truth about what you think and believe, like when you lose a job because someone read what you wrote, and your beliefs aren’t in line with the beliefs of the organisation. Being judged and rejected because of your honesty and openness in writing publicly about what you think.

Spending hours and hours creating a body of work to sometimes have that work disappear from the face of the earth, because of hackers, or bad memory, or when a website shuts down, or simply because people want something new today to replace yesterday’s stuff.

Having people argue with you, judge you, decide they hate you, troll you, outright reject you, think they know you, presume the worst of you, criticise you and flip you off, and they’ve never met you or spoken to you in real life.

Having your mother respond to your writing with concerns about your mental health.

Having nobody read your writing. Or care that you wrote. Or care about what you wrote. At all.

These are a few of the downsides of being a writer. Is it worth it? I believe so. Sometimes, like now, it’s hard to balance up the great things about being a writer with the bad things. More of my published works have been lost through hackers and website shutdowns than still exist online. Needing to help my family eat still keeps me working hours a day in other jobs. There’s barely any glamour in being a writer, that’s for sure. Yet, I am one. Maybe it’s arrogant of me to still assume the things that go on in my head are at all interesting to anyone but myself, but what can I do? This is all I have. This is what I am. To stop writing now would be to kill a part of myself, and, having almost died in real life a couple of times, I know I can’t really afford to amputate the thing that keeps me alive in about fifty ways, when my body and circumstances are conspiring to pull me in the other fifty.

And this is what it means to be alive. To find out what you were made for and simply do it, without thinking about fame or money, but thinking about being fully alive, instead of half dead. Because I may be not rich and not famous, but by God, I am not dead or dying, not any more.

Thanks for reading this. The fact you did so gives me great hope and comfort, because READING. Your reading this is the yang to my writing ying, and I deeply, deeply appreciate that you read what I write. So thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Love, Jo xxx

New beginnings.

If I’d lost this blog* six months, twelve months, two ago, it would’ve been a different story than the one it is.

That website was really the hub of my identity for a long time.

It began as a place to vent my shock and grief as Ben slid into alcoholism. I remember publishing my first post and thinking “Well, that’s it. Nobody will ever speak to me again. The whole world will read that and hate me. I’m in for it now.”

Nobody read that stuff but me.

Over the years, I blogged about mostly my cancer experience on that website. Good news and bad news. Struggles with writing my books, which I always worked through. Hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions of visitors. I made a living through that portal to the known universe. And it wasn’t even real, just code in a computer.

The things I said on that blog changed my destiny. Made me friends, allies, maybe even fans. It was the me people could look at while I wasn’t around, so they could decide if I was safe, if I “knew the code”. Many decided yes, and I thank you for that.

It was a big part of my life, that website. Extinguished. And now, of all the times. Right after I surrendered my cancer identify. And my house. Oh, and salary. And any safety, predictability and security. That niche in cyber world was like my shop front, my last little hole in the wall of the world where I could hide, or perhaps hold up and say, “I know I seem crazy, but I have this! I made this! This is me! I have credibility!” Maybe it was never that. Doesn’t matter now. It’s gone.

Yesterday morning I spent an hour in the deepest meditation I’ve ever had, focusing on Gods love and my worth, and on being supported completely, and trusting Him for my whole life. I was confused about the business side of my creative enterprises, and why it all seemed undefined to me, and others. I had a talk with Ben for almost an hour troubleshooting and decided on what needed to happen. Keep my blog for my writing, set up a separate website for my business. Sat down to login and begin, and wham. Website, blog, all my work going back months and yes, years, deleted. Wiped. I neglected to back up since before Christmas. Just lazy, I guess.

I remade my website just a few weeks ago, and did my best, most intuitive and focused writing since then.

I have some rough drafts saved on my hard drive. But those polished gems are stolen away.

I think the fact I had an hours meditation just before it happened helped. When I found out, I was okay. It surprised me.

I think this is the only way it could have gone, and it had to go. I’d never have been able to do it.

So it’s okay, I’m okay. There is a little rebuilding to be done, as I lost another website as well – Yai’s book site, and as he is trying to raise funds for the current crisis in a south Sudan through his book sales. I’ll have to get him a new site ASAP. So much work, all lost.

But now is as good a time as any to begin this new chapter. Time to look forward and trust. Time to let go.

And to those who seemed worried this was my sign to stop writing, no way. The best is yet to come,

Love, Jo xxxx

……………

*On the 15th of January, this website was hacked and deleted. I lost five years of blogging, writing and book drafts, everything not backed up – which, I’m ashamed to admit, was quite a lot.

Why you need to write your book.

The reasons why writing a book is so good for you may be different than you think.

Many people – most people – have blockages to writing and telling their story going back to early childhood. The narratives and identity of family are a huge influence over our storytelling. So are the explicit and implicit contracts made in our groups of origin. These unseen, and often unspoken rules are the most common and powerful barrier to authentic storytelling, in our culture. We hold to the idea that to tell the whole truth is to betray. Other cultures understand the power of stories to heal and connect, us to each other, to our past, to our future.

More obstacles await. Books are mythical objects, the embodiment of knowledge and receptacles of power. Those who create them are (supposedly) the elite, the intellectual juggernauts, the academic eschalon of our society. They have excelled. They are gifted. They have been discovered. They have battled, and won. They are the knowledgable, the superior, the awesome. Who are we to write a book? Who are we to think we could be of that ilk? Who do we think we are? To write a book is to venture, “I have something worthy to say.” It’s to rise above, and we know, those who rise up have nowhere to go but down.

We believe we are not worthy. Not enough.

More myths. To tell our story out in the open is like standing naked in the street. We believe it’s an invitation to criticism, failure, ridicule, rejection and humiliation. Why would anyone do that on purpose? It’s breaking the rules of mediocrity. It’s setting ourselves apart from the crowd. Books and stories are subversive. And nobody likes a poser.

To write a book is to believe you can change the world. It is to change the world. It’s to birth a change in three dimensions. Spirit, voice and paper. It’s to agree with God and forward the expansion of atoms and molecules, participate in the ongoing act of creation. It’s to be a co-conspirator in making the world, rather than a partner in destroying it. Oh, you will be branded as a terrorist and a murderer because you write, but only by those who risk losing their power because of your truth.

There’s no place for victim stories in this world. We don’t need your “testimony” – your “I once was garbage, but then I was saved and made good” story – we need you to own it all, inhabit it all, love it all and forgive it all. We need you to show compassion for yourself, because then we’ll know you have compassion for who, what and where we are now. Don’t think you need to know the formula for how to be all-fixed-up – just show us what it means for you to walk a human journey in a restless, diverse, violent, wonderful world. Just tell the truth.

You can write a story, and you can write a book. Books change the world, simply because they exist. They are your spirit and experience come to earth and made flesh, walking amongst us. They called Jesus “The Word” – he was a living, breathing story, a manifestation of Gods epitaph to us. Be the Jehovah of your experience, of your life, and bring us your precious, unique, healing, wonderful word.

Write your story.

How to heal the world.

Everything you think you need from God to be whole and enough

Everything you cry out to have

Everything you beg to be fixed, repaired and saved

Everything you think you can’t do

Everything you were proud of that was snatched from you and dashed into a thousand pieces

Everything that bleeds and aches, and which you plead with Him to heal

All your wounds, shame, lack, pain, sin, failure, loss and want

Will be the very things you reach for to heal in others

What fills your “windscreen” now, what seems impossible to ignore, what pains you so much to acknowledge and admit, what you’re learning to forgive yourself for

Will be the view you seek to create perspective for
Will be the shame you seek to soothe
Will be the hurt you long to relieve
Will be the lesson you burn to teach

For all the rest of His loved ones

Who are being hurt now, or who are yet to be hurt, or who are hurting others

And who will be just where you are, right now

Or are already seeking a healer, a teacher, a mother, father or friend.

You’ve believed your joy will come when this is over

When you get everything you’ve been praying and longing for

But your joy will come when you understand how this has made you truly see others pain, and not just your own

And when you realise you can help, and heal and make whole because

You can say “I know, me too”

Because this is love. And this is everything.

Blessings,
JO xxx

When I’ve Lost Weight, Left My Job And The Kids Have Finished School – And Other Subversive Forms Of Procrastination

When I’ve lost weight, people will take me more seriously, That’s when I’ll ramp up my project and really put the work in.

When the kids are older, I’ll have more time on my hands. Until then, I’ll just put this on the backburner.

When I have more money I’ll do it.

When I’ve sold the house – in a couple of years.

When I haven’t so many bills to pay.

When I get a “sign”.

When the opportunity presents itself.

When they offer me a contract.

When the door opens.

When I’m feeling better.

When I turn __.

When I have all the money in one place.

When I see there’s a demand.

When what I’m doing now has run it’s course.

When the moment is right.

When they’re old enough to leave school.

When the planets align.

When I turn the corner.

When I fix these things about myself.

When it’s safe.

When I’m qualified.

When I know what I’m doing.

When…..well, I just don’t know when.

*****

Do you really think you’ll know when the conditions are right, the planets aligned, when you’re truly ready to begin?

What’s that thing you just know is going to set you free?

You’re ready. Ready now. As ready as you’ll ever be.

Don’t fear judgement. Don’t fear failure. Don’t fear difficulty or change or poverty or isolation. Those things only come to the ones who procrastinate, who wait, who delay and make excuses and give in to resistance.

No, don’t fear those things. Fear wasting another year, five years, ten years waiting for conditions to be perfect before you start pursuing what you were made for, doing what you love, setting yourself free.

You need to get moving on this. Because you know what? You just don’t have that kind of time. 🙂

 

Why sometimes you do what you love and the money don’t come, and how to make sure it does.

I have this terrible habit of setting myself impossible goals and then failing my own deadlines.

Three times on this blog, I’ve published a post and announced it as being the “first in a series” – only to have that post end up as both the first and last in the series.iStock_000022396892XSmall

I write stuff in my diary based on guesstimates of time and what I think are kind-of achievable deadlines – and more often than not I realise too late I’ve bitten off more than I can chew.

This happens a lot to me. Sometimes I think it’s self-sabotage – setting myself up to fail, because what would happen if I succeeded scares me half to death. Sometimes it’s just wishful thinking.

I do push myself pretty hard to achieve things I think are worth doing, and usually, a few of ‘em at a time. It always feels like not enough to me. At the moment, I’m self-publishing Soul Letters, keeping the blog, taking speaking engagements, working a day a week at the YWCA, teaching workshops, fundraising for the book, getting ready to begin a Diploma in Chaplaincy (April) and still working my retail job too. It feels busy, but not too much. In fact, it feels like not enough. That’s my self-talk, my inner critic. I know why I have to keep filling my time – because in my head, if something doesn’t pay me real money, even if it’s fun, important and valuable in other ways, I need to keep looking. This is how I burn out. I need to be careful.

But something has changed recently. I’ve begun to be paid real money for things I would’ve happily done before for free. In fact, I’ve started to be paid for things I was doing for free just a short time ago. People have actually begun to insist on paying me for things I never asked for money for doing before. People are always asking me to do things, because I can get things done, but not everyone offers me money. But now, they are paying me, and they are paying me good money. And I like it.

I know what’s changed.

I started putting a real value on my time and energy.

They say “Do what you love and the money will come.” That’s half true. A great many people do what they love, and wait for the money to come, but they neglect to do the very thing which will mean they get paid for doing it.

They forget to send the bill.

Three things happen when you do what you love and send the bill.

1) You get paid.

2) People value what you do.

3) YOU value what you do.

I’ve always struggled with valuing what I do, because what I do isn’t considered “a real job” by a great many people. Some of the people who don’t consider what I do to be of value are people I like and respect. But in the end, it doesn’t matter if those people believe I am qualified to do what I do, or if they perceive what I do as having value. It only matters if the person I’m helping, working for, serving or partnering with thinks what I do has a value. In fact, the more I value what I do, they more others will value it also. And I don’t just mean value, as in how much money I charge for my service. I mean value, as in, the culture and atmosphere created around me and my work as I am doing it. I must value what I do to do it well. I must believe it’s of quality and of worth to people.

This in essence is what’s changed. I have begun to truly, deeply believe I have something of value to offer the world.

I offer something of extraordinary value to others, and in kind, I am extraordinarily compensated.

Not just in money. People will give generously and openly to you in all kinds of ways when you give generously and openly first. They will believe in you, because you believed in yourself, and in them as well.

The crunch for me came a few weeks ago, when I handed in my notice at my retail job. The point came where I had to decide whether I could continue to take less money than I could earn working in my own business simply because it was easy and predictable money. My retail job was taking up time and space in my head – time and space I knew I needed to give to my business. I knew I was acting like an amateur. I knew trying to dabble in my business and hold onto the security of a salaried job wasn’t going to last.

So I called it. I decided to turn pro.

And since I made that decision, I’ve earned more in two weeks in my business than I earned in two months in my salaried job.

So, my friend, I encourage you by all means, do what you love.

But don’t forget to send the bill.

******

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And you wonder why books cost so much.

I like the writing part of being a writer. But one of the things which makes good writing is editing. Editing is done by a different part of the brain than writing is, and as such, it’s easy for the creative side to get mad at the editor. Editing must be done with a serious face, hunched forward over the keyboard and in a bossy mood. My creative side doesn’t like to be in the room when I’m editing. She perches tensely on the daybed across the room with a scowl and a toasted sandwich while her her beautiful writing is hacked to pieces.

Editing day is not my favourite day. Those two in a room – phew, hard work.

Good writing isn’t just about creativity. It’s about editing, formatting, procrastinating, rewriting, hacking, slashing, burning, exorcising, kicking, screwing up and throwing in bin, rushing from room screaming with arms waving, crying, begging, denouncing, praying and bargaining. And you wonder why books cost so much.

editingday