Day 53/366 days Towards Self-Mastery. Mood: Reflective
How many of us have very little memory of our earlier years?
It's surprising the ends that the human spirit will go to in its effort to erase difficult times. It's through observing the human spirit that I discovered the drive to thrive that our body and mind is so competent with.
Your childhood doesn't have to be riddled with major physical trauma, sexual abuse nor other physical evidence of neglect to leave your spirit wounded. Emotional neglect, the kind that emotionally unavailable parents deliver by simply trying to make their own lives work, means that most of our basic needs are unmet. The need for closeness, caring and supportive relationships, and the need for acknowledgement and recognition of our uniqueness.
These emotional voids send us searching, striving and driven to figure out how to make life work if we're lucky. Depressed and addicted if we're not. The impact of these emotional wounds can rob us of our memory of our earlier years with perhaps the exception of memories of heartbreak.
When it comes to remembering our past Sarah asks us to dig even deeper today
We're looking for nuggets of gold that help us to remember who we are, what our preferences were, what we still do today that harks back to our earlier years, what we value, and pick one pleasant memory to mull over today.
Stay open to the exploration. Maybe use a pen and journal, or paint brush and create in your art journal. Pick just one pleasant memory and focus on that today.
Reflect on your childhood bedroom. Did you share it, what did it look like, what particulars can you remember, was the door open or shut? What colours did you have around you, did you clean your own room?
What about your family home? What was your favourite spot in your home? Do you remember the rooms, the garden, the floor coverings, the dinner table?
What did your mother cook? Do you still use any of her recipes today? Can you remember your favourite meals?
Fast-forward to your adolescent years. Who were your friends? Did you go to the school formals? What did you wear? How did you wear your hair?
Now visit your first home, did you decorate it yourself? Do you still treasure some of the items you had back then? Do they still bring your joy? Do you have inherited items that you have around you? Do you like them?
It's fair to say that when I was trying to bring the pieces of my life together, aware that I had very little memory of my earlier years, I began by focusing on some of the better memories. My parents, both from European descent, had a rich tradition of celebrating religious festivals.
Christmas and Easter festive seasons, by and large, were treasured memories. These were times that our family seemed to appear more cohesive. Weeks of preparation included cooking and decorating Christmas cakes, and making boiled Christmas pudding, the kind that had you searching for that silver sixpence in each spoonful of custardy goodness.
Cake tins filled with Christmas biscuits, containers of home-made confectionery, boxes of stone fruit from the markets, and we'd be set for a Christmas feast to remember.
Home-made decorations hung from every window and door, while blowing up balloons required the efforts of a whole team. A trip to town especially for gift buying was a special treat, with a troop of kids, pockets bulging with coins to find a $2 gift for each member of the family from the racks of trinkets at Coles department store.
Each of us would spend time carefully and secretly wrapping our gifts and hanging them from the big Weeping Pine Christmas tree that brushed the ceiling and filled the house with it's characteristic fresh forest smell. Dad and the boys would have cut it down and planted it in a drum of wet soil in preparation for dressing from boxes of Christmas decorations that surfaced once a year to add to the excitement of Christmas.
Anticipation and excitement grew on Christmas Eve. The tree hung heavy with gifts, the breakfast table set in readiness as we bundled into the car and off to midnight mass.
The heady smell of incense, the Christmas procession in the cool night air, a choir of carolers, the elaborate Christmas vestments worn by the priest and the altar boys all added to the excitement of this special time.
Weary-eyed, we'd roll into bed around 1.30 a.m. in readiness for hours of surprises, joy and laughter as we awoke to parcels on the end of our bed on Christmas morning.
Following a delicious breakfast of ham and eggs and Christmas yummies, a gathering around the Christmas tree was invited by my mother playing her favourite Christmas carols on her prized piano. My father would take the lead position position accompanied by the youngest in the family at the foot of the Christmas tree, as the rest of us formed a semi-circle in anticipation.
We would each unwrap our gifts one at a time, a process that was carefully orchestrated and managed, it would soon be revealed whether it was humour or practicality that motivated the giver.
Gifts wrapped in layer upon layer would taunt us as we eagerly awaited our turn to receive one of those highly prized parcels hanging from the branches of the Christmas tree.
These memories began to awaken in me others. Events that had long been forgotten. And slowly I began to piece together the lost memories of all those many years ago. Memories that added colour and texture to the ones that left me bereft, and memories that eventually brought me back to my family of origin.
Making a point of remembering more pleasant times provided some relief for the wounding that I had focussed on for far too long. Reintroducing some of those traditions enriched my small family's life as I began to appreciate my heritage and develop a more balanced picture of the trauma that I lived with.
Self-Mastery is about knowing ourselves deeply and honestly. Remembering who we are and where we've come from is part of the process. It's about getting perspective and getting support to find our place in the world. To craft a new niche for ourselves, to find our gifts and to experience our highest self-expression.
You are welcome to share your experiences. I'd love to hear from you. 🎄
366 days Towards Self-Mastery
When I considered my New Year's intentions for 2020 I had just one: To allow my heart to love what it loved...and let it lead me. (If not now, then when?)
I've spent months working on integrating my life. To live life more fully with my home life, my interests, my work, my responsibilities, all coming together, all connected. I want to give each the attention that they desire and need, and still have time and energy for the others. That means living and working from the heart.
As I was clearing out my bookshelf over the Christmas break I discovered Simple Abundance. I set it aside to explore it on New Year's Day as I lazed through another delicious day of nothingness. Sarah, the author, says this book is about living in grace. Living in grace I realised, is about Self-Mastery.
My thirst for understanding the human condition has driven me all my life, and hand-in-hand with self-mastery it has been a life-long goal. And seeing as I love to write, that living in grace is about self-mastery, and I love a bit of a challenge, then if I am truly going to let my heart lead, I really don't have any other choice. So scary as it feels, I'm starting out on a daily mission of leaning into the suggestions of this daybook and making a daily post to keep me accountable. If not now, then when?
I'm Josie. You can find out a little more about me here.
Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy: by Sarah Ban Breathnach.
This book is written for the Australian and NZ market because it refers to seasonal changes. It's available on Amazon here if you'd like to follow along.