The JOY of Christmas

Christmas. I used to somewhat detest it. It highlighted all of the things that were wrong in my life. The family dysfunction, the fact that I was still single & my life looked so different to those around me, my kids going to their dads every second year leaving me feeling completely removed and alone, & the constant struggle with lack of money. I spent many years ‘surviving’ Christmas rather than enjoying it. I drank too much, I ate food that made me feel crappy and I engaged in behaviour that I regret (busy-ness, criticism & judgement of those around me, control -trying to make everything perfect, & always feeling like I didn’t really fit in to my family). The last two years I’ve not felt the Christmas Spirit at all due to my life exploding- this is the first time I’ve genuinely been excited for Christmas in a really long time. I look back at the person I once was and am thankful for the lessons learnt, the opportunity to grow and evolve so that I can choose something different.

This year I choose differently. This year I choose to turn to LOVE, to open my heart as wide as possible and to move into the festive period feeling nothing but appreciation and love for myself and those around me. This year I am letting go of the control and frantic pace that so often comes with this time of year. This year I go into Christmas FEELING like I never have before. I feel a calmness, a steadiness, a wholeness never before experienced.

Many of my memories around Christmas consist of some kind of family drama. We can hold it together for a period of time before it all unravels, there can be snickering and talking about others behind their backs, there can be criticism that results in others feeling like they have to defend themselves, people holding it together until it all becomes too much.  There is withdrawal, disconnection, an outward politeness covering the internal angst. There can be pains of the past that resurface but are never fully confronted. EGO always comes up strong- an internal judgement towards those that we are surrounded by. The words are often never spoken out loud but the separateness is felt by all. ( How those around us should or shouldn’t be living their lives, how they should or shouldn’t be parenting, whose marriage is right and whose is wrong, who does more work, who’s the busiest, tiredest, who is more successful, who has more money, who drinks too much, who is right and who is wrong).

This year I choose to open my heart and really be with my family. To be present and with them knowing that when I align to the higher energies I can see the beauty in everyone around me. I stay in a state of gratitude knowing that life can change in an instant, knowing what matters and what doesn’t. Knowing that the things I once gave so much energy to really don’t matter in the slightest. I choose to be the best version of myself and see others in the same light, knowing that energy is our currency. Trusting that when I feel good others around me will also feel good. I know that everyone is struggling with something so I choose compassion and kindness, I choose to listen more, to ask more, to focus less on myself and more on those around me because my cup is already full.

I choose to lift the people that I once judged and give them nothing but love. I choose to support my sister with her kids instead of comparing her parenting to mine. I choose to take more time to make my mum feel connected and to honour what she is feeling rather than telling her not to  worry about the people that have hurt her it or trying to get her to do what I do (or holding onto resentment for the mistakes she has made in her past). I choose to be fully present with my children instead of worrying about them or trying to make sure they don’t make the same mistakes that I did. I choose to make sure my daughters boyfriend feels comfortable and included in our family rather than finding all of the reasons why he may or may not be a suitable match for my daughter. I choose to lift my son and make sure he knows that he is so very loved after what has been a difficult year for him. I choose to be IN Christmas as opposed to sitting on the sidelines passing judgement and living in my head allowing the constant inner dialogue to dictate my holiday and to take away my joy, peace and happiness. I choose this knowing that I don’t expect to get it right all of the time. If I do fall into judgement or become frustrated by somebody else’s behaviour I know that feeling these things is okay and that I am human. I won’t beat myself up for failing at trying to live an enlightened life, I know that amongst the frustration that ultimately comes when spending large chunks of time with family members I now have something I never had before- awareness. I know that when these feelings and emotions come up I can feel them and then I can always choose again.

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE XX

Kylie West
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Caring What Others Think

For much of my life I’ve cared deeply about what others think of me. I’ve spent most of my life trying to please others, putting others needs before my own, trying to do the right thing and trying to fit in. I’m a people pleaser from way back, never wanting to make too much fuss, never wanting too much attention and never wanting to disrupt the status quo. Ironic, considering this is the work that I have been called to do. At times it scares me and I have spent a lot of time trying to think of ways that I can escape this calling. But I know its not an option. I’ve come too far. I made a commitment to never betray myself, to never settle for less than I deserved and to never ignore the callings of my soul. I have to move forward – even though I feel extremely exposed, even though fear makes me want to run and hide, even though there are many people who are going to disagree with what I have to say.

 

But here’s how I’m choosing to do it – I’m stepping forward knowing that WHO I AM- JUST AS I AM IS MORE THAN ENOUGH. Who I am is all that I have to be. I BELIEVE THIS TO MY CORE – this is what got me through my breakdown/breakthrough and this is the mantra and belief that I will subscribe to for the rest of my life. I AM ENOUGH means that I stand firm in the truth of who I really am, that I don’t need to change myself, watch what I say or try to keep others happy. I AM ENOUGH keeps me grounded and rooted on the path that I am destined for without trying to control or fear the outcome.

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The Curse of Mental Illness & the Secret Blessing It Can Bring

I have never been as scared as what I was when I was fighting to try and stay alive. Suicide threatened me for a long time. I was highly suicidal for  6 months and mildly suicidal for close to 2 years. Anybody that has lived with depression, anxiety or any type of mental illness knows that each day feels like a week. Time slows down. it is quite possibly the cruelest form of self destruction there is. I get why people kill themselves, I really do. I understand why people turn to alcohol and drugs and I know how easy it can be to suddenly find yourself living a life that you could never have once imagined.

It’s true – there is help available – but for me (and I suspect many others) it wasn’t the right kind of help. I watched my mum go through the public mental health system for decades, only to see her steadily worsen. My mum is the reason I knew I had to look for answers outside of the current system. I had a very strong instinct guiding me when I was at my sickest. I had (before my breakdown) suffered with depression and mild anxiety for 10 years in which time I had taken varying quantities of Zoloft while regularly seeing Psychologists and counsellors. But during my breakdown I had a very strong inner sense that this was no longer going to be the path that I wanted to take. I refused to take any medication and I no longer believed that the mainstream medical system had the right answers for me. I did end up being admitted to the mental health ward at one stage for a short period of time, only to be handed a comprehensive list of labels telling me all of the things that were wrong with me. I left immediately afterwards terrified that I would become trapped in a system that would do little to help me find the underlying reasons behind my illnesses and subsequent breakdown. I knew how easy it would be to believe that I had what they told me I had, I knew that I was so down on myself that it would almost be a reassurance to believe that there was something very wrong with me that could never be fixed. It was almost a relief to know that I didn’t have to search for any more answers, it was a relief to know that there was a reason I was going ‘crazy’.

 

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FOOD MATTERS

Food has been a huge part of my journey. My body ended up rejecting everything that I fed it. I lived on bone broth, silverbeet, organic chicken, pumpkin and zucchini for close to 8 months – because anything else caused a major reaction. Over time these foods also ended up causing me major grief and eventually there was nothing I could eat that didn’t cause some kind of reaction. Food became a constant source of angst for me. Despite my bodies rejection of any form of nourishment I proceeded to gain over 10 kilos in a very short space of time. I now know that my body rejecting food was a huge part of the inner hatred going on within me. It was a clear message that I needed to unravel the turmoil of my past and address the underlying health issues within my body. Its been over 5 years since I ate ‘normally’ and its only been the last 6 months that I’ve been able to eat a variety of food again (still somewhat limited but now because this is what works best for me- mainly organic veggies and some fruit with a small amount of organic or grass fed meat) without the dreadful reactions I was experiencing.

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This is What Choosing LOVE Looks Like

‘I choose love over fear’.

I say these words a lot, they are the foundation of my life. Fear ruled my life for a long time and now I choose differently. Now I choose LOVE.

But what does this actually mean in the everyday context of life? We grow up with fear, we learn it at a very young age and many of us don’t realise that we can actively choose to not buy into the fear based stories that can so easily dictate our lives. Learning to wrestle with my fear, trusting that I am supported by the Universe, and choosing not buy into the stories that my mind wants me to believe has been a game changer. Before my breakthrough FEAR would constantly win in all areas of my life, in my job, my parenting, my friendships, my finances, and of course when I became ill. So what does choosing love actually look like? I’ve listed some examples below so that you can begin to gain a greater insight into living a love based life.

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What Are You THINKING About?

I used to have a constant inner dialogue in my head. I’d be thinking ALL OF THE TIME. Thoughts, images and stories receptively going around. A constant dialogue, much of which was repetitive, much of which was based around fear. I worried about things that might happen, I went over and over interactions I had had with people, I beat myself up for the mistakes of my past and all of the ways in which I was failing at life but mostly I spent a lot of time daydreaming and imagining scenarios where my life was different to what it actually was. I was trying to escape my reality by imagining something much more appealing. I thought up the craziest scenarios of being rescued by the perfect man, winning the lotto, or imagining bad things happening to the people that were constantly causing me grief. I lived in my head, never fully present because my reality- while at times good, was not the life that I had planned. I was existing, going through the motions and my mind was weighed down with thoughts that were doing little to help me.

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JUDGEMENT VS JOY

I’ve felt judged so many times in my life. Mostly for not doing life ‘right’. I felt it today and maybe you did as well? It makes me feel disconnected, alone and as though I’m a failure. It stirs anger and resentment deep within and makes me want to lash out in ways that I know do not serve me. It makes me question myself,  causes me great pain and makes me feel like I can’t do anything right, that I’m failing as a human being.

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