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Winter in the Garden, July musings

Winter in the garden ...

It is so wet underfoot so doing much in the garden this month is a recipe for muddy shoes and dirty fingernails.

July is the month to dream of next season's abundance, and drool over the images and promises contained in seed catalogues ...

It is the season for TRUST that even though there may not be a lot happening above ground, there is plenty going on underneath the soil.

Quoting from the Virtues Project, TRUST is:

Having faith. Positive expectation that all will be well. Having confidence that the right thing will come about without trying to control it or make it happen. Being sure, in the depths of our being, that there is some gift or learning in everything that happens.

Winter is a time of waiting.... waiting for warmer, drier weather, waiting for spring to arrive.

Winter is a time of transition, of rest between last season and next season.

We can reflect on our lives through the lens of seasons.

Our life from birth to death contains the seasons...

Taking on a new project from inspiration and having an idea, into action, then completion and fulfillment can be seen as a process that aligns with nature's seasons.

Our daily, weekly or yearly rhythms can be experienced and reflected on as seasons...

I am big on doing transitions consciously, with awareness.Let's  SLOW down and notice!

Moving from one 'season' of our lives to the next is a time when we can be mindful, feel grateful for what we have, honour what is changing and passing and prepare for what is to come.

I want to share a really important time of waiting, being in the unknown and trusting in my life ...

My husband, Ivan died in July, 2009 after being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in March, a few months previously.

The process of being with him, his sons and with myself was a profound, poignant and beautiful experience ....

Here is what I learnt:

We may have plans for our lives, but Life has even bigger plans for us

I am much stronger than I thought

When I ask for help spiritually, emotionally and practically - help comes

I trust my own intuition; when I do so I fell held and guided

Death is like birth - a process of waiting. Like birth, the timing and details are unknown and require trust and constant letting go

To be with my dear Ivan as he took his last breath with a smile on his face instantly erased my fear of death that I had believed since my father died in 1962.

'I am a chalice, holding space so Ivan can fly free'. (JMP, watercolour 2009)

'I am a chalice, holding space so Ivan can fly free'. (JMP, watercolour 2009)

After Ivan died I stepped up into creating a small business to support Josh and myself, which I sold seven years later. Whilst I am no 'Businesswoman of the Year', I am proud of the organisation I created and the way in which I nurtured the women who worked alongside me. I put all my energy into supporting Josh and growing the business. I had no desire for another relationship.

In 2016, in the weeks leading up to the seventh anniversary of Ivan's death, I became aware that I still felt married to him, 7 years on. A feeling in me was growing that there was something I hadn't let go of in my grieving journey. In order to be open to a new love relationship, there was something sitting in me that needed to be seen and given space before that could happen.

I was surprised to realise that I was feeling more bereft and desolate in 2016 than I had for some years. Seven has always been a big number in my life, especially as my father died when I had just turned seven.

During the winter months of 2016, I felt a growing desire to stop, create some space & time to be with myself, to go inside.

I committed to a small gesture of holding space for myself every morning for several month:  I sat and invited spaciousness .... I sat and sent love to Ivan, love and gratitude for all I had learnt from him, gratitude for our beautiful son, Josh.

I returned to the paintings I had created soon after Ivan died ....

'Through the Veils' (JMP, watercolour, 2009)

'Through the Veils' (JMP, watercolour, 2009)

I was astounded at the insight I had during that waiting, liminal process:

I realised that unconsciously I had responded in essentially the same way to Ivan's death that I had to  my father's death all those years previously in July 1962 .

In both those experiences, I took a big breath, lifted my chin and 'got on with life'.

Oh my goodness! I was shocked and heartbroken for feeling abandoned,  of shutting Ivan out, as it were, just as I had shut my father out of my life as a small girl.

Over the next weeks following this insight, I was awash with tears... tears of grief for the big Jacquie and the little Jackie, tears of love and compassion for Ivan, wherever he was in the great journey that death presents, tears of sorrow for not knowing my father.

I had no idea that these insights and healing is what would come from this time of waiting and holding space for myself. I felt as though I had been in a chrysalis and had completely turned into mush before starting to emerge and become a butterfly.

And it was just a few months later that I would meet Terence with whom I started a love relationship in July 2017 which is delicious - deeply nourishing and growthful.

This process of waiting in the darkness and trusting allowed me to begin to blossom again.

'Chalice blossoming' (JMP, watercolour 2009)

'Chalice blossoming' (JMP, watercolour 2009)

Stopping and noticing - it requires courage and a turning away from our materialistic world, with all it's ways to seduce us and it's dark alleys to get lost in....

 Taking the road of 'an examined life' requires commitment to our deeper selves.

We can be distracted so easily by social media that tells us to live in a world of instant solutions:  'Five steps to a happier you.' or

'The seven things to say to your child that will make them succeed in their lives and make you a great parent.' and so on endlessly!

We are told that change is just a matter of deciding to do something and then doing it.

'Yeah, right'  and we all know how often we don't manage to follow through with the new resolution or plan.

And what about the times when we are unclear about WHAT we are feeling, when the way forward is not crystal clear?

I love what Jungian psychotherapist, Margaret Mikkelborg says:

So this season of the inner WINTER is a time of resting, gathering strength. It is an in-between time, a LIMINAL time.

It's time of waiting, just like the garden is doing at the moment.

Liminality is a time of darkness, a time of unknowing, a space between the old and the new.

It is a time and place where we need to surrender to and allow the darkness to become a friend and the source of possibilities.

The ancient story of Inanna's journey to the Underworld is the first known description of the importance of the liminal space and the gifts to be found in the process of waiting.

Inanna journeyed to visit her 'sister' Erishkigal in the underworld. She knew she needed to go to gain wisdom but had no idea what to expect and indeed was surprised to be stripped naked and hung on a meat-hook. It was a journey of descent, waiting and renewal. Inanna gained the knowledge and wisdom that everything has a season of growth, fullness, harvest and decay - our bodies, our projects, our lives.

Inanna, Ancient Sumerian Queen of Heaven and Earth

Inanna, Ancient Sumerian Queen of Heaven and Earth

In the Inanna epic, the God of Wisdom sent two tiny creatures into the Underworld to listen to Erishkigal in her birth pangs. This witnessing enabled both goddesses to transform the darkness into a place of rebirth and renewal.

The need for support and being lovingly witnessed, whilst exploring the unknown places within us, cannot be overemphasised. We all need and deserve to be seen and heard!

This process of descent, waiting and renewal is as relevant today as it was to the ancient Sumerians several thousands of years ago. The same process is used in many organisational change management frameworks. For example:   Theory U.

Some questions for you to ponder:

 What needs to happen for you to slow down and notice the transitions in your life?

What might be in seed form within you that needs time and space to gestate in order to birth?

Can you give yourself the gift of liminality? How might you create a space to dream and wait for the next phase of your life to emerge within you?

What needs to be witnessed inside of you, that hasn't been seen or heard until now?


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