We all get a bit distracted sometimes don’t we? I have a rather vivid memory of driving in Beverly Hills and almost knocking down a palm tree as I saw some hot dude and erm missed the tree so to speak…
There’s a snake in the garden of Eden. A snake that distracts with temptation. Now, I’ve often wondered what this meant? Yes I know there’s the literal meaning of the bible, but I am fairly certain it’s a myth, or parts of it are. Today we had a snake in our garden, a poisonous one, so I got thinking about this.
What hit me today is that there’s always a snake in the garden – there is always someone there to ruin your paradise. Someone who doesn’t like you, or is trying to knock you down for some other reason, or an event that’s making you go bananas. It’s irritating as hell and there’s this really huge temptation to jump right in and get lost in the irritation. It’s about focus. You either focus on Eden, or on the snake.
I always say that when we grew up we believed everyone to be a reflection of ourselves. We decided who we were due to who others said we were. We reacted to the stimuli from nature, from our environment. If there was a snake in our midst then we might easily have ended up feeling bad about ourselves because we believed we were bad. We had no conception of who we were so when told we were bad we believed it, or at least we started questioning our own goodness. Yet, somewhere we know there is this state of mind where we do not judge ourselves. We know there is a place of no judgement. When we were born we were pure, or as pure as we could be having already been affected by things in the womb. And pretty early on we often meet unconditional love from a parent, relative, or other peer.
When we grow older we might not necessarily believe everyone is a mirror of us. Just because someone doesn’t like us we may not think they are right about their judgment. That doesn’t mean we don’t engage in it though. It doesn’t mean we don’t get angry, or irritated, or something else. The snake is coiling around and we stare at it. Sometimes we even let it suffocate us, twirl around us and choke us. It’s because we are looking at the snake. We fell for the temptation.
Life when you grow older becomes a different kind of mirror because it often brings to light what you carry within yourself. The snakes often look a lot like previous snakes in your life, wounds you have not healed yet.
Lately I’ve been watching snakes. I’ve seen how I let other people’s opinions influence me and how I avoid confrontation because I don’t think it’s worth it, plus I have to be vulnerable if I confront someone. I can see I leave the room when I feel someone doesn’t like me. I just go aloof into my little protective bubble of loneliness, where I can be at peace with myself. I’ve sort of reached the point where I find that peace, that sense that I am OK, just because one person doesn’t like me doesn’t mean I’m unlovable. I don’t let it get to me the same way I did when I was younger. I am happy in who I am, but I’m still not strong enough to sit in a room with a person who dislikes me, or simply adores everyone else in the room but couldn’t give a fuck about me. I find it uncomfortable. And sure, I am sensitive to people’s thoughts and energy, but I want to learn to be able to just observe. No it might never be the perfect time spent with people who dislike you but I want to disengage enough to be able to just sit back instead of starting to feel bad about it. When I feel someone doesn’t want me there I don’t want to back off. I don’t want to give them the power to decide what I’m gonna do. And I can still see I wish I could please the person, wish I could convert them to liking me. But it’s not right. I am likeable, just as I am. I don’t have to make myself more likeable. I want to open my heart more and live more from my core instead of putting on airs (especially when people rattle me), but that’s about opening my heart more, not wanting to become more.
You know the hero’s journey as well? I’m always on about it because it was part of my training in intuitive coaching last year and I was trained in Hollywood movies as well, so go figure. Anyway, in the hero’s journey it goes like this: born to greatness -> threat to life -> child in hiding -> call to adventure -> threshold guardians -> meet a wise person -> go into training with hero partners -> face demons by dying and resurrecting -> find your treasure -> go into service. Now along this whole path at any time you can refuse your call and go back into hiding – the snakes along the path might frighten you into this. There will be new calls to adventure all along though, so just because you refuse one call doesn’t mean another won’t come.
Why I mention this is because when you set out towards any goal, or are given the opportunity to do something you love, there will be snakes. The snakes often appear real, so they create doubt – threshold guardians. Then someone might come along and offer some advice, or guidance – they will be your hero if you so like. And then the demons will come because now you are really being tested whether you want this thing you set out for and if you are strong enough to handle it. So all shit lands on your doorstep, or you simply face your own worst enemy: yourself. And if you decide to fight the demons, rather than face them, you’re in for some trouble, because you are holding onto them, instead of staying vulnerable and facing your demons; your wound.
Since I spoke to the principal at the creche (I work at a creche in Hangberg, in Cape Town. It’s a creche for kids that usually have problems at home, little, or no money, etc.) about four of the kids I wanted to help if I only could and found out that I will get to look after at least three of them one afternoon a week and I will help by giving them lunch, I have felt like drowning in snakes.
This all happened at the same time as someone from America was coming over, who is a big fundraiser and a friend of mine suggested we’d meet and show her around. This kicked me into gear with my own business – two calls to adventure at the same time if you so like. Both the kids and the business mean I will tie myself to Cape Town. It also means I will finally live the life I always dreamt of – doing what I love in a place I love and having a gorgeous family, or in this case: extended family. Because even if I only spend an afternoon a week with these kids and make them aware that I travel a lot, they will become like an extended family of sorts, or very close mentorship thing.
Many people questioned my decision with the children and about staying in South Africa. A lot of them never knew it was always my dream to look after kids like that, but I got a lot of questioning. My own main concern was my visa. I need to get a proper visa, not just a volunteer visa. Then there was the money issue. Looking after these kids an afternoon a week is no problem. The problem is if I ever want to give them more than that. I presume every little helps, but that doesn’t stop one’s emotional attachment to giving. Money was also an issue if lacking because if I stay here then I can’t travel and many friends and family will feel very far away. Songs on the radio about LA. Writing articles about France. Movies about Hollywood. Going to a wedding soon to see friends in London and visit my family in Sweden. Could I be more reminded of the places I love? Once again an activated fear that my ventures won’t happen, all I care about: working with underprivileged kids and youth, movies, healing and food, it won’t come together. For the first time I see it working and that maybe scares me more than anything, because then I believe more and then…arrgh. Panic. Demons. My own incapability. My ADD tendencies. Thinking about everything in one go instead of taking it step by step. And then you talk to the principal at the creche and one of the kids’ mother had already said she wanted me to raise her son. She wanted to give me her kid. And the twins are badly beaten at home and don’t want to go home. Am I a bad person for not just taking on raising the kids? Am I a bad person for going near the kids because what if I don’t get my visa? And it’s like PANIC. Sort head out . Emotionally detach. Do not do more than you can, just help with what you can. And what about me? I’m single. I need time to date and have fun. Four kids attached too, in whatever way?!
You see all those snakes? I was super excited and then I got all coiled up in a mess of…snakes. I went from being very, very grounded to being tested by everything around me, more than mentioned in this article. It was as if every demon came back to do a little pirouette in my mind. I heard this little voice in my head saying “You’re just a dreamer. It doesn’t matter that everything you ever wanted pretty much is just now showing up on your doorstep, because you’re just a dreamer. You can’t handle that. You’re just a dreamer. You have broken self-confidence. Look at your childhood. What do you think you can accomplish? Business leaders and mothers don’t have these thoughts. They’re super people. Women who doubt their self-worth will never find men who love them. You will keep having someone in your life that doesn’t like you, and who you will want to escape in your friendship circle because your wounds with your step-mother will never heal. You will never live your dreams.” And then you face the fears full on (or do like I did yesterday: get PMS and be absolutely unable not to face the fears, because anything negative in your life will wash you over like a tidal wave: no place to hide anymore) pull out the plug and the voice stops and you realize it was just a voice and all the wisdom you have gained with the years you can fully live and explore. You are grounded once more.
This is what I love and what I want to do. I tried imagining going anywhere else, doing anything else and I just felt empty. My fear wasn’t doing what’s happening here, my fear was failing at doing it. My fear was that people would not accept me as I am. My fear was not sticking to my own boundaries. I was contemplating refusing my call to adventure, because I was poisoning my mind with self-doubt. At first I was over the moon, then I suddenly started feeling really bad, because in between focusing on restructuring and then once again restructuring my ventures until they work and there’s a great plan for execution and spending time with the kids feeling super happy, I focused on stress. On not being good enough. On fucking things up. On going through everything I have possibly messed up in my life. Ever. So instead of raising to the occasion like I truly wanted to, I allowed my mind to go haywire. I was so stressed I couldn’t sleep. And it had nothing to do with what I had to do, it had everything to do with other people’s opinion of me for doing it and starting to judge myself , or negotiating my own boundaries for what I want to do.
What became clear to me is that I have to prioritize to stay sane. I can’t take on something just because there’s pressure on me to do so. I’m not going to give up my life for someone else and I’m going to be clear about not promising more than I can give. In my life i have to make money to stay afloat, that’s a priority and then launching my business is the next. And already with the kids there’s prioritizing – I have to make sure with the two boys I keep the relationship very mentorship like at first, because I’m not super woman. With the twins I can give a bit more, because I know they need more and if anything happens I’m more likely to take on two kids rather than four. I can’t promise I will get a visa. I can’t promise anything. I can just do what I can do.
I’m thinking I might as well just give social life in Cape Town a go and fall in love. You know, give it a go. Open my heart. Let go of the snakes. Hang with the tension of being vulnerable in my social and love life as well. Get married. Get a visa and live happily ever after, trudging through my little heroes journeys together with my hero and hero partners.
Now wouldn’t that be quite a plan? Irresistible snakes my ass – one has to learn to resist the temptation of snakes. Yes, you have to think things through and make sure you make the right choices and make a plan that works. The problem is when you are called to adventure and suddenly a snake pit appears. The snakes are harmless and you have to venture down there, but unless you get a hang of your fear of snakes, the snakes will become very dangerous – they won’t harm you, but you will harm yourself as fear will rule your mind and you won’t be able to think straight. You will fall over and in a state of panic be lying on the floor with snakes crawling all over you. That way nothing will be accomplished and you will feel like a failure. The snakes won, but they were only snakes of your imagination. In reality they were harmless creatures sent to guard your treasure and make sure you are ready to receive it. That you were ready to face your fears and overcome them. And maybe, just maybe be vulnerable enough to share them, rather than hide them…ahem…