Last weekend a friend reminded me of the importance of reaching out to others for support. I met her last year on a course about vulnerability and had seen her again in London a few months ago when we enjoyed a meal and caught up then went to see a talk. Before I went back to my hotel we had had a coffee together and she shared some issues she was struggling with. My parting words were to say that if she ever just felt like getting away and spending time by the seaside, perhaps to help gain a different perspective, then she was very welcome to come and stay.
A few weeks ago she reached out and said that yes, she’d love to come and stay if the offer was still open. I instantly agreed, even though it occurred to me that whilst we had shared some really deep personal reflections and experiences on our weekend together, we didn’t really know each other than well.
In the run up to her arriving I had a few instances of worrying, Would we get on together spending a whole weekend in each other’s company? My underlying fear was that I might be found to be not enough … not interesting enough, not wise enough to help her in the midst of her struggle, not warm enough, hospitable enough … But every time these thoughts surfaced I pictured my wooden heart talisman hanging on the wall of my office (the one I talked about in my last blog, Inner Witch FM) and focused on opening my heart to this situation. When I did this I found that another voice began to speak. This incredible woman has reached out to you in the midst of her own vulnerability it said. What an honour. What trust she must feel towards you. Open your heart to this feeling.
The more that I dwelled with these thoughts, the more my attention shifted away from myself and towards my friend. What can I do to make this a wonderful weekend for her? I asked myself. How can I create and hold a space for her to get what she needs? And the more I did this, the more I began to look forward to her visit.
On the day of her arrival I had an idea. On the course we attended, we learned about a very simple, but powerful technique called ‘Permission Slips’. The idea is that in any situation where you want to summon your own courage, you write down permissions on a piece of paper beforehand. I used this a few months ago as part of my preparation for a big presentation at a conference by writing out three permission slips and putting them in my pocket before I went on stage … for example one of them was I give myself permission to Speak from the heart and let go of the need to cover all of my lines exactly as I had rehearsed. I thought that writing permission slips might help my friend to relax and feel at home, giving her permission to enjoy the weekend as a mini retreat. So I wrote about five slips and gave her them when we arrived back at my house. They included permission to Help yourself to whatever you want in the fridge or cupboards, without needing to ask, to Spend time on your own during the course of this weekend eg. go out for a walk on the beach along, without worrying you are being anti social. This got things off to a good start and my friend would later say that having these permission slips really helped her to relax.
Our time together flew by. On that Saturday we enjoyed a long walk from the lighthouse with the dog, stopping off at an art cafe for hot drinks, before later heading to Tynemouth and a funky local fish shack on the beach where we ate delicious, freshly caught seafood before later snuggling by the fire to watch a film by candlelight, enjoying a healthy home cooked casserole after soaking in luxurious hot bubble baths (separate baths I might add!). On the Sunday before she left, I brought out my Sacred Path Cards and we did a spread each. I’ve had these cards for over twenty years and I love them. They were a gift from a friend and I periodically get them out to inspire myself with the beauty and wisdom of the Native American spiritual traditions upon which they are based. As always seems to be the case, the cards were evocative and seemed very apt for both of us. I did a spread called The Four Directions which provides a broad overview of how you are balancing your gifts. My second card, the south card, indicated where I most need to place my trust at this time, and it was The Field Of Plenty which is all about ideas and needs being manifested. This seemed so appropriate as I had woken up that morning with a deep sense of calm and wellbeing, and of gratitude and appreciation for my life, having had the opportunity to see it anew through my friends eyes.
A few hours later, as I drove home from the train station after seeing her off, I felt incredibly thankful that my friend had reached out to me. Though her courage I had enjoyed a nourishing, happy weekend, spending my time being, rather than running around doing (as is usually the case) and slowing down and taking time to appreciate everything around me. I also reflected that the next time I find myself in a place of struggle, rather than withdraw from the world until I feel better and stronger I will try to be brave like my friend, because you never know what gifts you may be offering someone else when you have the courage to reach out in the midst of your own vulnerability.
Shine on. LHKD xxx