Friday, 15 May 2020

My thoughts about death and grieving during lockdown

Things have been so surreal since my Dad died at the end of January. I suppose things were always going to be weird, strange, odd, even discombobulated (as I said in a FB 'live' after his death.) And so it was and is: there is a Dad shaped hole in my life. Nothing can change that.

However just as I was getting back to a 'normal' routine after his death, Covid19 hit and suddenly we were in lockdown. And since then, my grieving process has got sort of stuck in a time warp.

I can't visit my Dad's grave.
My Mum hasn't been able to order a gravestone.
I can't easily do any of the honouring things I had in mind to help with my grieving journey.
I can't visit my Mum easily or any of my relatives.
Holidays when I was going to do something 'honouring' have been cancelled.

These feelings have sent me back in time to when I had a molar pregnancy miscarriage at 19 weeks pregnant in 2003. I was monitored for 8 months following the termination to check that I wasn't getting cancer which a molar pregnancy can become. Although I felt devastated I didn't grieve because I was busy dealing with the trauma of the follow-up. Years later I had a major breakdown when I saw a painting of a 7-year-old girl (which is the age my daughter would have been at that time) because I hadn't really acknowledged my loss and I definitely hadn't processed it as I was too busy dealing with my potential cancer diagnosis and then life took over.

I know I am so lucky in so many ways. I got to attend my Dad's funeral in February and his memorial service a month later in March. I got to say goodbye reading a poem at his graveside. I started the grieving process whilst he was still alive and was supported by friends and family. I got to talk to my friends and family face to face after his death. I got to cry and get hugs in person.

My grieving process is harder now. I can still talk to those friends who have supported me but there are no hugs and crying is so much harder over the internet. I have found being brutally honest with the few friends I trust to hold that space for me has really helped but it is more tiring to deal with the aftermath on my own in my house. My essential oils have really helped and I have a creative outlet for some of my grief via poetry. I have had shamanic healing that has helped. I learnt a lot from looking back at the experience of my miscarriage and what helped me and what didn't and that knowledge has helped me. As I said I am very lucky.

My heart goes out to all of those who have lost a loved one during this time. Grieving is such a personal and odd process at the best of times but in lockdown, our 'normal' has gone: the routine that we could grieve around is dead. We are untethered.

So now is the time to find people who you can vent to, cry with, or just be in silence with over the internet.

Now is the time to plan to meet up with those who will truly 'see' you or can be ok holding your pain for as long as you need.

Now is the time to plan those honouring celebrations and rituals that will help you take the memories of those who have died forward with you.

Now is the time for us to all start talking openly and honestly about death and dying so no one ever feels alone or not seen when a loved one has died.

If you would like any support around grieving using the amazing healing power of essential oils please get in touch using the contact form or visit my free Essential Oils for Grief & Loss product here to access a free eBook & watch a video of how I helped myself whilst grieving.

Friday, 10 April 2020

The Waves of Grief poem

The Waves of Grief

It doesn’t matter how strong
When the waves come they batter
It doesn’t matter how sad
Those waves crash over, no matter
How prepared
#How surrounded by those you love
Nothing can stop the push of water
The pull of the undertow
Trending water
Going under
Come back up
Put on a brave face for shoe

But the pressure of the sorrow
Actual hurts in my chest
The pressure of tomorrow
I feel under duress
To keep going
Despite the siren call to
Stop floating
And just let go
To know
I will not see you again
Is just too real, too surreal

The waves come crashing
Taking my breath away
And I say
“I miss you Dad”
And I keep swimming
Heavy legs and struggling arms
All twisted and uncoordinated
My world turned upside down
Disjointed, discombobulated
Life jacket
Comes past out of nowhere
I just grab for whatever
I don’t care

I’ll take a hand, a laugh, a smile
And hold it like I’ve been given gold
A moment of happiness
Or gratitude
Wherever I can find it
Like a pearl in an oyster
Or a piece of driftwood to hold

When dragged under or over by the waves of grief

Battered and broken
Drowning alone
Those precious moments of human empathy
Can remind me of home

I am Dadless, I am sadness
This is who I am now
But there is happiness
And memories to hold on to too
I am sadness, Happiness
Laughter and loss
Darkness and light
Solid and ghost
I am strong
I am weak
I am a human who’s grieving
I am silence
I am song
I am grateful to be breathing

The poem was written by Viv Chamberlin-Kidd 
17 days after her Dad’s death on 25/01/20

Here is a video of my saying the poem on a FB ‘live’ on 10th April 2020 can be viewed here on YouTube

Friday, 3 April 2020

Some of my Shamanism back story

It was an interesting set of events that led to me becoming a shamanic practitioner
after my religious upbringing. After having my 2 amazing children, with a molar pregnancy
miscarriage at 19 weeks pregnant in between, I felt that my emotions were hindering my
desire and ability to home educate my children. As a successful IT programmer, turned
stay-at-home-parent, I didn’t want to be an angry or resentful person around my children.

Having tried weekly therapy for about a year, I felt I needed more and so in 2009, I attended
the Hoffman Process - a 7-day residential course to change any inherited behavioural patterns
that prevent you from feeling fully alive. During this process, you learn to identify and honour
your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual sides (your quadrinity.) It was during this time of
transformational work that I started wondering about my Christian upbringing and how I was going
to honour my spiritual side without any hierarchical religious involvement. 

It was, strangely enough, my Dad (a Church of England Priest) who facilitated me finding the
answer because he had visited a shamanic practitioner a few years before to discuss the
idea of Jesus being a Shaman. He had bought a copy of the practitioner’s book ‘The Spirits
Are Always with Me’ (Jane Shutt.) I had mentioned how some of the exercises during the
Hoffman Process had felt very tribal and so he had given me the book to read. I had an
epiphany moment during one of the chapters where it talked about ‘The Void’ (a place souls
get stuck) and ‘soul retrievals.’ It talked about how we can ‘lose’ bits of ourselves and I knew
that I had lost bits of myself through repeated bullying at school, the miscarriage and the
horrendous way I was treated in hospital during my subsequent termination procedure,
the death of loved ones, even being dyslexic at school, to name just a few thoughts that
popped into my head as I read.

I put the book down immediately, got on the internet, found Jane and booked an
appointment (luckily at the time she lived in Scarborough as I lived in York.) At the appointment,
I got my power animal (my personal spirit helper to empower me in everyday life) and I did
indeed receive 2 soul parts back (one that was stuck in The Void.) It was an enlightening
experience because I hadn’t mentioned my fears to Jane about being down The Void but
also to find out why those parts had left in the first place. 

Being a course junkie at that time I was excited to learn more and book on the Introduction
to Shamanism as well as the year-long Deepening Your Connection course with Jane and
her partner Christine. I learnt to ‘journey’ to the spirit world for power, knowledge, to bring
back healing, etc. This is the primary way that Native Shamans around the world go to the
spirit world either via a drumbeat or through rhythmic rattling. It was exciting, scary and
during my training, I was beginning to recognise the many subtle positive changes in my
emotions, my levels of stress, my relationships with others and it felt like I could fully put
into practice what I had learnt on the Hoffman Process. I had often felt pressure and overwhelm
before but with my power animal and the other spirit teachers I was finding as part of my training
and as I was learning more about shamanic healing techniques it felt like I had graduated from a
3 geared bike to a 10 geared bike: everything was just easier and more fluid.

I didn’t feel the need to find the next course that would change my life or fix whatever was
‘wrong’ with me. It was such a relief to me (and my bank balance) as I had already trained in
EFT, NLP, Silva Method, Reiki, started a hypnotherapy course, done an introduction to counselling
and although I had learnt a lot there just wasn’t that feeling of empowerment or grace that
I was getting now I was learning the ancient skills of shamanism. Instead, I enrolled (for personal
development reasons only) on the 3 years Core Shamanic Practitioner training - ‘Healing the
Fractured Soul.’ I learnt to conduct soul retrievals, power animal retrievals, blessings, a stone
divination technique which I call Guided Pictures in the Stone (GPS); psychopomping (making
sure people who have dies get to the Land of the Dead for healing) as well as other shamanic
techniques to bring back power, balance and healing. 

It wasn’t always easy, I often felt like a fraud as it was so far removed from my Christian
upbringing but it was liberating, powerful and I received at least 10 soul parts back. I got to
know my spirit teachers and guides and my power animal so well that they are like my own
personal advisory board with my best interest at heart, there when I need support, advice,
power or protection.

It was during my 3rd year of training that I knew that  I couldn’t keep what I was learning to
myself - I had to let other people experience the subtle, exponential power and clarity
shamanic healing or a GPS session can give you. Once I finished training I offered sessions
to anyone who was referred to me by my teachers (who had moved to Wales at this point)
or if anyone felt drawn to me when I discussed my shamanic belief system. However at the
Autumnal Equinox 2019, to fit around home educating my children, I officially opened my doors
as Essentially Shamanic (incorporating my shamanic and spiritual essential oil work.)

Things were going really well when I was involved in a car accident on election day last year.
Although only mildly injured I was left with some knee and upper back issues which meant
I needed to recuperate and couldn’t easily practice shamanic healing which involves kneeling
and quite a lot of movement. A journey to my spirits led me to take my business online which
is how I am now able to offer 90+ minute sessions via zoom and distance healing to anyone
who wants a session.

If, like me, you have experienced the loss of a loved one, a relationship breakup, an
accident, bullying or any life transition (menopause, children leaving home, moving house
children changing schools, etc,) where you feel that maybe you have lost a bit of
your ‘spark’ or haven’t felt the same since then I can help.

I can honestly say that until I experienced my first few soul retrievals, I hadn’t realised that I was working on ‘half batteries’ as I call it. I now feel more peaceful, content, able to accept lives stresses more easily than I used to. I accept who I am more easily without needing the external validation I always craved. Don’t get my wrong, life is still stressful, I like getting external validation, things are not ‘perfect’ but shamanism has changed who I am, how I feel and how I conduct my business.

Monday, 7 October 2019

Lessons from burning my school assignments

Open University maths assignment marked 10 out of 10I burnt a whole load of my assignments from school and university last week, as part of my minimalist month.

As a kid, I loved getting recognition for how well I was doing at school. That need for external validation followed me into my adulthood. When pregnant with DS I did an A'level in Psychology just to prove I could get an A (I got a B!!) From 2001 (the year DS was born) through to 2014 I studied on and off with the Open University in the attempt to get as First Class degree. I didn't need another degree - I already had 2!! I needed to prove that I could - or at least I thought I did.

English GCSE Open Study marked 44 out of 50It wasn't until I had finished my 5 years of shamanic training culminating in passing my shamanic practitioner training that I finally gave up on that degree and instead settled for a First Class Diploma in business, computing, and design. At that time it was a decision I took almost without thinking about it. 

I feel that the decision was easy because of the personal development work I had done through my shamanic training as well as the many soul retrievals and healings I received. With the help of those soul parts and getting to know my spirit guides, I was slowly beginning to find my validation internally rather than externally. 

Six assignments lined up along a wooden benchFast forward to now and it is a minimalist month and yesterday I needed to get rid of 6 things!! Having done these decluttering months quite a few times since starting in 2016 that means it is getting harder to find things to get dispose of. I am, however, enjoying the challenge and finding that I let go of more stuff, it is mentally, emotionally and spiritually challenging me, especially if I give myself time to stop and really explore my feelings. So in my decluttering/sorting session for day 6, I came across some assignments from middle school, upper school and even from when I was doing my Maths Certificate with the Open University. 

There are valid reasons why I had all those assignments and in some ways, they bring me joy but I don't want the clutter. To be fair they don't take up that much space but if I said that about everything I own then it all adds up to a lot more than you think. So I decided to copy them onto my computer and let go of the originals.

A fire burning in a metal fire bowlAs part of the process, I felt called to make a ceremony of what letting go of those assignments means to me: a celebration for internal versus external validation. So I burnt them at my woodland and conducted a personal shamanic ceremony around letting go of the need for external validation and wholly embracing my self-worth. This cleansing fire brought up stuff about my undiagnosed dyslexia throughout my school career, my comparison to my others academically and many more interesting thoughts and feelings. I loved letting go of all of those thoughts that do not serve me anymore and making room for those thoughts and feelings around validation, self-worth, etc. that help and empower me.  

Ashes scattered on the groundI am in the process of sorting out ways of getting actual worthwhile feedback (not validation) from my shamanic and essential oil clients. Don't get me wrong, I am more than happy to receive feedback that can help me improve my services. I, however, want to move further towards a place where any external recognition I get for my skills, services, etc. will be received with gratitude from a place of power rather than need. 

This has made me realise that decluttering my physical space allows me to let go of more than just the physical stuff if I give myself the time to do so. This whole 'day 6' process allowed me to also declutter my mind and make room for my soul to feel more peaceful.

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

What felling in the woodland has reflected in my life

I love it when something unexpectedly triggers thoughts and feelings. 

Today DH and I visited our woodlands to check out how the felling is going. We got the woods back in 2013 and DH (who spends a lot more time there than the rest of the family) has been observing the woodland over those years. This year he requested a report from the Woodlands Trust about how to manage our woodland over the next few years. Part of that report identified that up to 20% of the trees needed to be felled to allow the woodland to mature into a native woodland that will also allow us to occasionally make money from felling (continuous cover forestry.)

20% is a lot of trees considering we are used to the woods the way they are and it was definitely something that we were nervous about. We knew it needed doing as the woodland was sold to us after having been used as a plantation but how would it affect the feeling and look of our woodland?

Today the 'feller' (see what I did there?) / woodcutter had done about 80% of the cutting down and it looked amazing. New ground cover plants were already beginning to show as the sunlight was getting through to the woodland floor. 

The destruction was noticeable but I was surprised by how it felt like our woodlands but seemed so much better. I felt I could breathe more and it was so much fun finding the new mushrooms, moss and other things that were beginning to grow.

Anyway, why am I telling you all of this? Well, it got me thinking about parallels with life. In fact, I posted about it on Facebook when I was actually walking around the woods. 

I have been contemplating how much I 'do' in an average week especially as I have just relaunched my Essentially Shamanic business now dd is at college one day a week. I started wondering how the activities I do add to my life (or not.) Did I need to think about pruning back / felling or letting more light / breath into my average week?

I am aware of Tony Robbins 6 human needs (1 = certainty; 2 = variety; 3 = significance / love; 4 = connections; 5 = growth; 6 = contribution) and it was weird how well it mirrored in our management of the woodlands as well as my life.

Woodland Me
1Our woodland will thrive now there is more spaceMy family is ok, my children are happy, my DD is still happily home educated and
I am happy with the life I have. 
2Getting rid of most of the spruce (non-native) and some of the pine allows the silver birch, oak and other trees to flourish as well as allowing more  ground cover plants to growYou really don't get more variety (or uncertainty) than me - I home ed. which is always full of variety as we don't follow any curriculum but live free-range.

I have a paid part-time job, am part-time self-employed as a shamanic practitioner and an essential oil educator and volunteer at my local community cafe. No day is ever really the same!

3We want a mature, native woodland. It beings my DH much joy and it is very significant to our plan to live lightly on this planet.I feel that my shamanic practitioner work could be my most significant contribution to the world as there are not many of us in the country and it is important valuable work.

I also get significance from my home educating status especially as a home educator who has radically unschooled / free-range educated / not followed any of the national curriculum. Again there are not that many of us around and I feel it is an important way to show that it can be done and your children can thrive.
4More ground cover plants, leads to better quality soil, etc. allows for more connections between plants and especially allows for mycelium and mushrooms to flourish which we love.I get many connections from my MLM essential oil work. It is one of the things I love about it strangely enough. I am in a UK team that has the best leaders from the point of view of leading with care, consideration and ethics which is massively important to me: it is about being of service rather than money.

I feel more disconnected from the home education community now that my children are older and one is at York College but I have made some lasting friendships from home educating my children.

I love being a cafe volunteer and value the connections there as well.
5Better soil, better growth, more space for native trees to grow and for the woodland to grow and mature.Being a shamanic practitioner and essential oil educator has forced me to grow as a person over the years. CPD and learning about both of these healing modalities is important to my need for growth and variety in my life.
6Better soil, better quality and healthy plants, more oxygen into the atmosphere, more carbon absorbed from the atmosphere.I help people through my shamanic work and essential oil work and feel that these are important roles to play.

I also like that I volunteer at my local cafe and give my time for free to anyone who wants advice about home educating their children and not worrying about standard education that I feel is out of date and not relevant to today's climate or the well-being of our children.

Anyway how weird is that all that came out of a visit to the woods this morning!! 

I think I have some contemplating to do looking at the thoughts of mine above.

I am glad I got to revisit these human needs just because of a visit to the woods - isn't nature brill?

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Home educated to college

I've been meaning to write about this for a long time now but just didn't ever seem to be able to find the words.

When you start on a rather odd path like home educating, especially a free-range, autocratic, child-led home education, college or structured education seems a long, long way off and for some it never comes at all. But like all things, if and when it does creep up on you, it can be a shock or at least for me it was. I started recording Facebook 'lives' last year and my August / September ones were all tinged with an air of sadness and the emotional-ness of the loss I was feeling over my eldest going off to college after 12 years of not being at school and 17 years of being with me pretty much 24/7. Don't get me wrong, I was excited as well but it was a big change for the whole family and I really had no idea how he was going to emotionally cope with the environment of a college with over 4,000 students (I wasn't bothered about the academic side).

Anyway off he went, my gorgeous, sensitive, free-range child and we were blessed to have him looked after, nurtured and cared for by total strangers. There were ups and downs of going from no academic study to 3 days a week of Maths, English and a level 2 Games Design course plus the fact that the college only catered for people re-taking Maths and English GCSE not those who had never even studied Maths or English GCSE. But the staff were absolutely amazing - DS was given extra work to do and was helped in every way possible.

DS has never been diagnosed with dyslexia but when he started trying to read when his sister was teaching herself at age 4 (DS was 7) he showed classic signs of it. I am dyslexic so knew what to look for. At that point I asked if he wanted to read and he said no so I told him to stop - he was only doing it because his sister was. We always brought our kids up to play to their strengths and at that age his strengths were climbing trees, drawing maps, playing computer games and mental arithmetic so why learn to read when you don't want to or need to - that was our philosophy. Left to his own devices, he eventually taught himself to read some time between the ages of 11 and 12 with no issues at all.

At college he was supported by the learning support team and assessed with additional needs due to his dyslexic symptoms and at times he availed himself of the mental health services when he felt overwhelmed or needed some time out. All this was done with no judgment or stigma, as I feel it should be. We all have mental health and need support from time to time and the same with a helping hand with academic work.

Anyway, I'm here to let you know that all went well. He coped, he passed all his courses with the best mark he could get and he managed that all in 8 months from an academic standing start. He started the equivalent level 3 course yesterday.

Why am I telling you this though? Am I just wanting to blow my own trumpet on how amazing I am as a mother and educator!! Nope. Instead, I want to remind everyone out there that there are alternatives to mainstream education that don't need you, as a parent, to be a teacher or amazing at imparting knowledge to your children. When my DH and I decided that DS was not going to school because we didn't want him to be taught to read or anything until he was ready, we decided that as the main stay at home parent, I was there to parent my children with guidance and love, not educate them in the ways of Maths, English or anything else.

Although I have helped other people's children pass GCSE Maths (I am a geek who LOVES maths) I am appalling at imparting my mathematical wizardry to my own children. I am mean, short-tempered, have no patience and become possessed by the worse teacher you can imagine. Not at all Mum of the Year material!! In contrast, I am their Mum, I am their taxi driver, I am their confidante (if needed) to name just a few but I am not their academic teacher and I don't need to be. Most of their 'education' from me has been around emotions - trying to have empathy for where someone else might be coming from if they act in a certain way that causes upset; not taking offense (as it is pointless - read my post here); holding your boundaries whilst being kind; not labeling someone as something but rather labeling the behaviour; the 5 languages of love, etc.

All the academic stuff is better taught by teachers and that seems to have been borne out by DS's experience. I am hoping that the emotional resilience he showed over the last year is due to my DH and my nurturing of him and his sister over their lifetime but I can tell you that his academic prowess is all his to congratulate himself on as well as the college staff who facilitated his learning.

So remember:
  1. there are alternatives to our education system
  2. you don't have to be a teacher to home educate - you just have to care about your kids :-)
  3. children DO NOT have to follow the national curriculum
  4. it does NOT have to be expensive to home educate
  5. it is possible to pass Maths and English GCSE in 8 months having never seen the curriculum before (3 hrs a week per subject whilst doing another course)
  6. you can get a job without any qualifications - just thought I would throw that in there in case you are still reading!
  7. if you are MY child, don't ask me to teach you Maths unless you want to see my Mrs Trunchbull impersonation!! In fact, don't ask me to teach you any academic subject
  8. MOST IMPORTANT - you are all unique and AMAZING (watch my FB 'live' to really instil that in you) 
If you would like further information about home educating please feel free to get in touch.

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Compare and Contrast poem

I hide behind you
But I didn't ask
I decided myself
To compare and contrast

You're thinner than me
Your hair is so wavy
You have so much drive
So much more than God gave me

Inside I roar, roar and compete
Inside I reel, I scream and deplete

Scored on a scale
I compare my abilities
Against those I see
I compare my agilities

In my own secret race, sprinting with no pace - maker
To keep me in check
To not stack my deck
Against myself my only competitor
But I imagine comparison life editors

I hide behind others
But I didn't ask
I'm the one who decided
To compare and contrast

Inside I hide, I hide and compete
Inside I'm raw and incomplete

Social media drowns me
Even when I don't look
Pervasive like disease
A comparison hook

Look at her, look at him
They're so together
They've done this, they've done that
Their pictures like heaven

Inside I'm confused
Inside I compete
Inside its torture
Inside I repeat

She's thinner and fitter
They're funnier and prettier
I contrast and compare
It's not rational
It's not fair

Look at him
Look at them
Look at her
I'm so numb

My brain keeps on whirring
Spewing out such vile thoughts
"You're worthless, you're lazy. Compared to them you're worth nought"
I try to be strong
Push those thoughts to the back
Then things pop up on my feed
And the gremlins spew black

"She gets way more loves
People comment for her
You're a fraud and a fake"
I'm nauseous and raw

I hide behind her
But I didn't ask
I allowed my inner voice
To compare and contrast

This comparison-itus
Is consuming my soul
A whirlwind of broken mirrors
And of media holes

Stop, breath and mind quiet
Stop, breath, halt the riot

Breath in the power
Breath in my soul
Stop the inner critic
Stop and take hold

I'm raw and complete
My soul purely me
Look inward and soul ward
Be comparison free

I'll let you be you
For I didn't ask
I'll hold on to me
No compare nor contrast

Monday, 1 July 2019

Primal scream / Primal slayer - shamanic journey in poetry

I have a shamanic spirit teacher that looks to me like the first slayer, Sineya from Buffy the Vampire Slayer so that is where the slayer reference comes from.

You face me, my mirror and soul
I am broken and tired, you are strong and whole
You say "Let go, let it all out"
I hold it in but want to shout
You continue "Let go, it's been too long. 
You're an adult now, the child has gone." 

I open my mouth, the tears they well
I let out the rage, I scream and yell
It goes on and on, a timeless bubble
Snot, spit, tears, rage uncontrollable

Then the magic begins
I watch it unfold
My memories spun
Webs of stories untold

My snot is mycelium
Running forever unseen
Unground networks of food
And hallucinogenic dreams

The spit from my roars
Falls to the ground
Springs up into grasses 
Trees and plants, all around

My rage fills the air
Heated, pure power
The atmosphere forms
An impenetrable barrier

My screams punch holes
In the sky, like spears
They become stars
That shines for years and years

As I scream and rage on
My feet stomp the ground
Cracks spread out forming
Caves and tall mounds
Mountain and valley
Dale and hill
Spring up all over
Allowing rivers to spill

From my tears that fall
And flow into seas
Forming lakes en route
As clear as my dreams

When spent, I collapse
And bigs spiders scurry
Enveloped in cocooning webs
They take my old memories

Weaving them into stories 
Of power, resilience and strength
My personality and uniqueness
Forming with each thread

I watch the magic unfurl
In the haze of my dreams
The landscape morphs
Moulded from my screams

Until I am the landscape
I am everywhere
My childhood and memories
Totally laid bare

A wondrous scene
Filled with colours unfolding
One of a kind, uniqueness
In stories untold, in
Patterns, nature, magic and music
Who knew old, rage-filled memories
Could become so perfect

My slayer now shimmers
A landscape of beauty
My mirror, my soul
That landscape is me

"Visit this place,
Tap into the power
When unhelpful memories invade
Remember each flower
There is no other like you
And never will be"
My slayer turns and smiles
And that primal being is me