Opening to Grace at 53

Today is my 53rd birthday.  I sit in gratitude this morning at the amazingness of my life, taking some time to pause and reflect on all that has occurred to get me to this point right here, right now.   Wowza.

Two days ago I achieved a milestone for which I’m really proud.  A vision I’ve been holding for many years is to offer and hold workshops/retreats in Wainui on wellness – anything that helps align and centre body, mind and spirit, whether it be through yoga, dance, singing, food or meditation – stuff that is good for the soul.

Together with my friend Lisa Mills, we planned a Spring Awakening Yoga Day to be held at the Wanui Community Hall, which had recently been renovated.  Lisa would lead us in yoga and relaxation and my offering would be in providing a nutritious organic vegetarian lunch served on Grandma Nettie’s beautiful floral china.

Eighteen people (our maximum) booked in for the day.  Ladies came from the surrounding bays on the peninsula as well as from Little River/Birdlings Flat, Lincoln, Christchurch, and even farther out from Ashburton and Darfield!

The theme of the day was Opening to Grace – to be with what is, to connect and open to that which is deeper inside of us, to connect to our bodies through asana and breathwork, and to invite this exploration in a nurturing and nourishing environment.

We had an amazing day together and everyone left happy and with smiles on their faces.  I was buzzing on a rush of endorphins and proud to have been a co-creator in the day’s unfolding.    And proud of myself for achieving a bunch of new firsts:   catering a lunch for 20 people and organising and administrating the gathering for which I got paid (a first in the ten years I’ve been in New Zealand!!).  It felt good and I am in deep gratitude to Lisa for believing in my vision and mentoring me through this first event.    We are already planning our summer and autumn workshops and scheming to do a two day workshop in a year’s time.     Many thanks also to friend Kristen who was my kitchen assistant and dear Bruce who polished the singing bowls, chopped veggies, and made his fantabulous homemade bread during our morning session and delivered it fresh and steaming in time for lunch!

There’s been a lot of opening to grace happening for me since returning from our June/July European trip.   Something in me has been freed since participating in the Jill Purce family healing workshop and the singing bowl workshop.   I came back with a renewed sense of passion and purpose.    Projects long thought about and visions dreamed of were now ready to be brought into form and completion.

Over the month of August as Bruce and I rode out the rest of winter and holed up by the fire, we lugged out the white board and spent time re-visioning our purpose for ourselves and for Birdsong.   Words that came forth were TRUST,  LISTEN, and  BELIEVE IN YOUR OWN WISDOM.   When we sat and asked what is our purpose for Birdsong we came up with:   It’s our home for self-nurturing, a sanctuary of beauty, a place to immerse in nature and rejuvenate and it’s also a community gathering place for sharing, learning and co-creating.

I want to share yet I also want to be alone.   How do I find my way when I’m grappling all the time with my own dualistic needs:   inner vs outer,  solitude vs community,  self-nurturing vs service.    How can it all be achieved?    By opening to grace.   By going slow and opening to more flow.    By relaxing the need to control and instead open and ask for what is needed and wait for the answers to come.   Listening deeply and finding one’s own soul rhythm.

So I’ve tried slowing down and stepping up and here’s what I’ve accomplished in the last 75 days:

* I’ve attended two death café meetups in Christchurch which are AWESOME (read about this worldwide movement here: ).   I’m making new friends, getting knowledgeable about all aspects related to the dying process, and looking into further trainings – I am going to do DeathWalker training next year

*I’ve read The Tibetan Book of Living & Dying – a 400 page book that’s been on my ‘to read’ list for four years since Dad passed away (this was achieved by setting a goal to just read ten pages a day of this large tome)

*I’ve hired a lovely woman from Christchurch to do a revamp of my website, giving it a facelift and morphing it from the blog into a full website which will be more reflective of who I am now – it will have information on Birdsong Retreat, our offerings, and events.

*Both Bruce & I have been working hard to DECLUTTER the piles of stuff we have accumulated. We’ve processed many boxes of treasures, moving them on by donating or selling on TradeMe.

*We successfully held our first Birdsong Working Bee in September with eight friends who came for the weekend. We waterblasted and repainted all the deck chairs and other furniture;  waterblasted, primed, and painted part of the outbuilding; split & stacked wood; moved the prayer wheel into place; and attended to a variety of other things.

*I researched and contacted several cabinetry/wardrobe joiners; meeting with one and getting one quote to build us some storage solutions in the bedroom and office. With nary a closet to be seen in our house, this will really help me with keeping the house tidy and not feel suffocated by all our stuff out in the open.

*I’ve hired a gardener to come on a regular schedule and mow part of the property and I’ve got the gardening ladies coming every six weeks to help.

*I’ve started teaching (rather than facilitating) my Monday Movers yoga/wellness class and have had three new ladies join the group.

*Bruce & I spent two weeks with his mom Linda who came on her fifth trip to visit us at Birdsong. The weather wasn’t so great and we were housebound a lot.  But we managed to go out for some lovely meals in Akaroa, went to a friend’s house for a BBQ, did a penguin watching tour at one of the outer bays, and spent many, many hours chatting on a wide variety of illuminating subjects.   My friendship with and appreciation for my mother-in-law deepened.  She’s a really neat, kind, and wise woman.

*And as I shared at the beginning of this post, I organised and co-created a one-day yoga wellness workshop and provided catering for twenty ladies.

Voila!    If you ask, the universe will provide.   If you can slow down, you can receive what’s being offered.   The flow will happen.   There is time for everything.  I’ve had more energy and more enthusiasm for life and feel driven and excited for all my projects.   Next week we board a jet plane for London where we’ll attend another Jill Purce week-long immersion.   Bring it on baby.  I’m fifty-three and ready to step closer towards my true me.  Thank you universe!