Stripping back the layers

I spent much of my adult life as a tabloid reporter and worked hard to exhibit all the right attributes. Hard-nosed. Cynical. Ruthless. Ambitious. You know the score. In truth, I wasn’t really any of those things, but spent so long pretending, I didn’t know where I began and the lie ended.

Fast forward a few decades (cough) and I look back with a mix of horror and awe. What was I thinking? And how on earth did I get away with it for so long?

These days I invest a great deal of time and money into peeling back the ‘protective’ layers. One way to fast track this process is spending time in silence. I enter every silent retreat a gobby, wise-cracking former tabloid hack and by the end, I am usually sobbing and telling strangers that they are beautiful and I love them.

The effect of silence on those layers of mine is like an over zealous team of decorators with industrial sized wallpaper strippers. Huge chunks of my shell fall away and it feels as if my heart has been cracked open.

Things that I normally fixate on, like money, the spare tyre around my middle, validation, hanging out in fancy places (which I NEVER do, I just imagine it) etc suddenly hold no interest. I’d sooner sit on a log and stare at a leaf than drink the finest champagne in the most exclusive joint.

Best of all, I don’t feel angry. People don’t get on my nerves. I’m not in a hurry. I am less judgemental and I literally do love everyone.

If countries had a national silence rather than a national service requirement, there would be no wars, I am sure of it. A person treats others the way they treat themselves. Don’t imagine for a minute that Putin is living a happy life. His face says it all.

I’ve fallen off the wagon recently when it comes to spiritual pratice, believing that the odd silent retreat will make up for it. It does, partly, but I recognise the need to connect with my inner stillness on a daily basis. I’ve been re-reading Joe Dispenza and was struck by his notion that if you want to change anything in your life, you have to change yourself first.

I’m in the middle of buying a bungalow by the sea. We made the decision to do this shortly before interest rates started to climb. As time goes on, this project of ours feels increasingly risky BUT a small, still voice within tells me to push on. It’s all going to be okay, so what choice have I got? I must trust that voice. Don’t get me wrong, there are moments when I run around the house hyperventilating and losing my shit, but I can generally talk myself out if it and back into a more Zenlike state.

I want to be a person who is brave enough to take risks, who trusts, has faith and is prepared to lose everything. A person who can surrender to life and enjoy the adventure. A person who celebrates every single moment. I’m not there yet, but I’m working on it. I’m changing and when I feel impatient and complain that I’m still at the mercy of my ego, repeating age old patterns, I think back to the 24-year-old me who got a job on a tabloid newspaper and spent every waking hour pretending to be something she wasn’t. It was exhausting.

If that 24-year-old were to look at her future self, she’d toss her peroxide blonde hair over her shoulder, adjust her skin-tight pencil skirt and declare that I’d lost the plot, before tottering away in her bunion crushing high-heels. I’d call her back, put my arms around her and whisper that no, I haven’t lost the plot, I’m only just finding it.

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