Further… A post about my husband’s ‘spiritual journey.’

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My husband Anthony John Hill ‘became enlightened’* in 1985 in his mid twenties and the fact that he’s stuck around so long I sometimes take for granted.  Remembering explains why I cried so much when I watched the end of The Good Place on Netflix. (*my words not his)

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They Live 1988 film

His words:

‘I became aware, or more aware, and began to question things, to question the world I lived in, and to see through the facade.  It was in 1985 that I realised I was here to ‘bear witness.”

How it started:

‘My girlfriend at the time,** her mother liked me a lot and lent me books; On the Road by Jack Kerouac and Memories, Dreams and Reflections by Jung.  Later I found The Electric Kool-Aid Acid test by Tom Wolfe, about Ken Kesey; Fear and loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S Thompson, The Naked Lunch by William Burroughs, and, most important of all, Journey to the East by Hermann Hesse’ (which we both regularly mention whenever we feel as if we’ve ‘fallen off the path.’) (**who he remains in contact with to this day)

‘Becoming vegetarian was the big thing.  You can read as much as you want but it’s the actual doing something that makes a difference.  That was the first thing I actually did in terms of self improvement.  From that moment I started questioning things more; I moved away, and started doing courses in personal growth.’

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The Merry Pranksters were cohorts and followers of American author Ken Kesey in 1964.

‘Once you wake up the veil is lifted.  It’s like being on a hill looking down.  You have the opportunity to step out of it and look back and see it as it is.  Of course that could be all part of the illusion too, you can’t know.  All you can do is be as genuine as you can.  I still get angry, I still make mistakes.  I can still be unaware at times, a lot of the time, not be full of love to my fellow humans.’

Anthony John Hill at 25

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My anchor and my guide

 

Throwback Thursday: On Writing

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First published in July 2017

On Writing

Named after the really great book by Stephen King On Writing (I can’t actually read any of his books because I don’t like reading anything scary, but I love this book about the writing process.

The last time my mood got really low was during a period of stress at work, a minor distance from my husband, and loneliness in my female friendships.  On top of that, I had stopped writing.  At the time, I didn’t care, I didn’t even put it down as a hobby when I filled out an application form.  Instead I put singing!*  I spent the day alone watching Boyhood (real time film about families and growing up that shows just how fast it all goes).  It showed the good bits and the mistakes and got me thinking of all the things I could have done differently.  I called a few friends, they were all busy or unavailable.  I panicked:  should I go back to counselling?  Was I depressed?  Or was I, as I suddenly realised, just a writer who had stopped writing?  My fingers tingled, and I began to write…

*I moved and had to find a new yoga class.  The yoga teacher introduced me to someone who lived in my new town.  That person invited me to join a pop up singing group.  I was blissed out after yoga and agreed.  I thought maybe it was about me getting rid of my inhibitions.  It did do that, but it led onto something much more important.  The singing group woman also invited me to a book club and gave me the names of the two books they were reading.  I went to the library, it was closed, I went to the book shop, it only had one of the two books in- Orlando.  I made my excuses about the book club but I read Orlando.  It was better, much better for me than the singing; seeming to unlock my writing, focus and structure, and if I had to pay my dues in advance by wearing a silly hat and singing out of tune in public then it was a fair price.

The fact that I got so low over a film shows how fragile my state of being was and how sensitive I was that a film could put me in that place, and how this new found neutrality is quite literally a life saver, that now I can run over a baby rabbit on the way to work and barely give it a second thought.**

**If you are like I was, and find even reading that upsetting, let me ease you by saying:  It ran out in front of me as I was driving along a main road, hurtling across the middle.  I put on my brakes- I didn’t slam them, but nor did I check in my rear view mirror either, so that evens out the me-rabbit balance, but I felt it go under the front driver wheel.  I wondered afterwards, would it have been better not to have braked?  If I had been going slightly faster, would I have gone past it, or at least would the front wheels have gone past it?  An old boyfriend of mine told me that animals have better instincts than us and it is best not to brake as they will have judged it.  So are all the dead animals and birds at the side of the roads not as I always thought, due to people driving too fast, or animals and birds walking, running or flying unavoidably out in front of you, but are actually the result of caring drivers slamming on their brakes?  Probably not.  I think he was mainly referring to deer, as he had hit one a few years previously, driving through Thetford Forest.  It had run out, no way to stop it.  He said they made eye contact as it hit the windscreen.  That was my Vietnam, he used to say.  I don’t know if baby rabbits are as capable as grown deer of judging speeds and distances of traffic on main roads.  Apparently they don’t even know what to eat, they just eat anything and everything and it’s just luck or trial and error if they survive.  So it’s not that I didn’t give running over a baby rabbit a second thought, it’s just that I decided not to get upset about it.

The songs of our lockdown

My husband bought the Kasabian album West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum from a charity shop while I was away in India.  He put it on in the car after picking me up from the airport on my return to the UK a few weeks before lockdown.

The album became the soundtrack to our lockdown.  Track one, Underdog, below, for driving to work when most people were at home, the roads were quiet and everything felt slightly surreal:

This, Take Aim, for dancing in the boat.  In spite of everything, we’ve danced and sang and laughed so much throughout the lockdown:

Oh, and this, Happiness, is my driving home from work love everyone sing along song.  Altogether now!

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Throwback Thursday: The Fairytale Past

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First published in July 2017

The Fairytale Past

Maybe it wasn’t that bad after all.  Maybe I had a lot more agency that I have previously admitted:  because to be honest, a bit of me had realised, realised even at the time, that I did.  I knew I was different, and even in the midst of being humiliated by their I-bet-you-get-all-your-clothes-from-jumble-sales taunts, I felt superior.  I made no effort to fit in.  I remember that time as friendless, and yet it turns out I did have a friend after all:  Miranda, who also went on to become a healer and a yoga person.  I met her again recently at a yoga class, she recognised me and said we used to sit beside the tennis courts and talk, and when we went up to high school and I went to boarding school she was devastated.  ‘I didn’t think I had any friends,’ I said.  ‘Well you did,’ she said, ‘You had me.’

And then I remembered that at junior school I used to stay in at break times with a boy called Keith and work on our stories that we’d been doing in class because we didn’t want to stop writing.  I used to choose to stay indoors and write, instead of going out to play.  So nothing’s changed then, in forty years.

I lived through all that, experienced it all and so I can travel back there to that 1970’s school play ground and take a fresh look.  No time machine required, because my body was there, wasn’t it?  Its imprints are in my body, passed from cell to cell like batons in a relay race.

And later, now I return to my past, to myself with illumination

I sometimes wonder if we as we are now make up our pasts- because they don’t really exist do they, except in our minds.  Why is it that we talk about them?  To make ourselves seem more substantial?   Like John telling people he’s been to India, or me telling people I’ve lived in New Zealand for a year- except last time I met new people I didn’t and just presented myself as I am right now.  As my friend Jane said, it is feelings and how you are that are important.

Wouldn’t we look at ourselves as we are now and make up our pasts exactly as they are?  Me with the Albion Fayres, John with the hard drinking family that made him teetotal and the craziness that made him such a survivor.  Do we look at what we are now and make up a back story that explains it, that offers us an explanation?  (Me:  Sexual appetite and promiscuity= sexual abuse.  Social awkwardness= bullied at school)

What if you were brave enough to offer yourself up (to others and to yourself) without explanation or apology?   What if you were brave enough to live with yourself as you are now- no back story, no past, just living right now in this now moment, this now place?

 

Thank you very much for reading

Life Update: Lockdown in the UK countryside

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Sitting outside after work or on days off the canal has been busy with ducks, ducklings, a moorhen and swans and new babies, way, way better than tv! I am working three days a week, my husband three or four days per week, as we both work in care. There have been some adjustments to working practices but I’ve really enjoyed the way people at work have come together.

There are a lot more walkers, cyclists and joggers both on the towpath on the opposite side of the canal, and also on ‘my’ walk. Living quietly on a narrowboat our day to day lives haven’t really changed, it’s the monthly social/family trips to London and overnights with family in Norfolk which have stopped, although we’ve been to Norfolk to get prescriptions and seen my mum in her garden, wearing masks and keeping a distance.

We do not watch tv and I limit the amount of news media or commentary I absorb. I have taken a light interest in and listened to anyone I know sharing conspiracy theories but I avoid totally believing in anything that will scare me (whether conspiracy or on the ordinary news.) Aside from a few moments right at the start neither of us have felt anxious. I could be accused of being a Pollyanna or an ostrich but that is the same as usual.

I was interested to hear some of the news from the US, parts of mainland Europe and Ireland, about protests against the lockdown. And also news about how countries such as Sweden and The Netherlands have done things differently. In the UK we have seen very little in the way of protests. I sometimes question if it is really as bad as we are being told and is the lockdown proportionate, but I do go along with it all because I don’t think we’ll know until afterwards, and maybe not even then.

I like that care workers and supermarket staff are being valued. I am not a fan of the patriotic sentimentality of the clapping, although I go along with doing it, or the fact that some people on Facebook shamed someone for not joining in! This duality, the good (appreciating the NHS) and the bad (shaming people publicly) of people, is the same as always.

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Extroverts in the UK are having Skype dinner parties and nights watching live lockdown performances etc. For us, a few extra phone calls made and received, that’s it. But then we are both still seeing lots of people at work, living together, in an idyllic setting, with a place to walk on site and a footpath right across the road. I feel for those in cities and in flats with no gardens, and those who live alone. I think it’s harsh not to be able to meet a friend at a distance.

Duality again, a sense of us being one world, vs casual racism, which I have been disappointed to hear. I have enjoyed reading blogs from Japan, Cambodia and India. WordPress is great for connecting all of us.

The newspapers report daily deaths and pay tribute to individuals who have died of Corona, which is nice in one way, although it induces a lot of fear, but what about all the other people who have died and will continue to die, of suicide, road deaths, and cancer?

Already people are noting the costs of the UK lockdown: a doubling in domestic violence killings; several instances of whole families being killed in murder-suicides due to worries about money as a result of the lockdown; people suffering and even dying due to all non urgent appointments and surgeries being cancelled; a rise in suicides as people are isolated and mental health support systems taken away; and children at risk or just really missing their friends and extended family.

There has been some confusion amongst both the general public and different police forces about what things are actually part of the new Coronovirus law and what are just things the Prime Minister has said in briefings. Me too so I won’t go into too much detail but for example according to the law we shouldn’t be out without ‘reasonable excuse,’ eg food and essentials shopping, caring for relatives etc, exercise, going to work if you can’t work from home. Non essential shops closed, although some more shops are beginning to re open. As my husband said, the list of what is essential begins to expand as time goes on eg items for repair around the home etc, rather than just food and medicines.

Police forces have differed in their approach. One police chief said the powers they have been given are normally only seen in a dictatorship, and that they were mindful to police by consent and that particular force had only issued one fine at that time. Other police forces have been much more heavy handed, threatening to search people’s shopping trolleys for non essential items such as Easter Eggs; The Government had to step in and say that if a shop is open you can buy anything in it. One police chief said a few days ago that some of the rules don’t make sense to police let alone the public, such as, why can’t people sunbathe in a park at a safe distance but they can queue for an hour outside DIY stores?

Some local councils shut parks, later the government told them they had to open them, but I don’t know if they all did. Some benches in parks had tape over them for people not to sit down, what about old people who need a rest when out for a walk?

Most people myself included shop for necessaries and then add the non essentials with them (for us, some chocolate or alcohol on top of necessary food items.) Shops limit the number of customers and often have queues outside with people spaced out. I have made one trip to Superdrug and bought things I needed such as moisturiser and some nice things such as face packs. I really enjoyed that nice, quiet shopping session, and I was glad to support them as they are treating their staff well and also have lots of vegan items.

I’ve managed to get some potting compost and some onions, bought at the same time as buying logs, and have planted one lot which are coming up, the second lot had to wait until I was able to get another bag of compost.

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There are new, adorable Easter card worthy lambs in the field right by us. Last year I struggled with this, knowing what lay ahead for them. This year I seem to have managed to switch off more. This week we have both struggled with watching wild birds trapped in cages; the sheep man traps crows and magpies and kills them later. We have checked and he is allowed to do it so there’s nothing else we can do. We considered leaving but have decided to stay. He’s moved the cages slightly so they are not right by where we sit. I cope by reminding myself this type of horror is everywhere, we just don’t always see it. Other neighbours are not upset by it but they love the swans and ducks. My mother in law has pet chickens but eats other chickens. But I have not always been vegan, and I use a car and fly, against some people’s ethical code; as my husband said, we’re all of us responsible for everything.

My book is almost all at the stage of being ready to be read, and then it will be a finer edit to do, as well as submitting to agents.

We still hope to go to India a few days after Christmas and return around 18th March. Flights are still cheap and oh so tempting to book as they might go up but we know that would probably be unwise, as India may not let us in, or may not be open, depending on a second wave, etc.

Wherever you are, I hope you are doing okay and I wish you all the best

Thank you very much for reading

Rachel

Throwback Thursday: Don’t do it Di

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Eleven years old.  In the back of my mum’s Morris traveller on our way to school, via picking up two children my mum got paid to do the school run for.   My school had given out Charles and Diana Royal Wedding bookmarks.  I had written ‘Don’t do it Di’ on all of mine.  My mum and her friends, i.e. all the people I socialised with in my home life as I mainly hung around with adults, all thought Diana was a vulnerable young woman who was being taken as a breeder, and that it was sick, not romantic in any way.

However, this was not a view shared by most of the population of England in 1981 and when the two children my mum took to school were about to get into the car, my mum said ‘don’t let them see those’ (the written on bookmarks).  There was no sense of any shame or it being a dirty little secret of ours; it was simply that these naive, brainwashed children wouldn’t be able to cope.

I inhabited a different world to that of my peers.  At boarding school in 1982, me telling my disbelieving, ridiculing dorm about female circumcision (FGM used to be called that), them saying ‘girls can’t be circumcised Rachel’.  They didn’t even know about nuclear weapons, The Bomb.  ‘What, is there just one bomb Rachel?’  Oblivious, their parents obviously told them nothing, while I was getting out at weekends on false pretences to go on CND demonstrations, getting a coach from Norfolk, eating sandwiches, marching to Hyde Park.

Having surreal calm nightmares of being out in the garden, holding hands in a circle, waiting to be evaporated, hoping the end would be quick.  Thinking of, even though I knew the government advice of the Protect and Survive pamphlet which was delivered to every home was pointless (CND did their own version, Protest and Survive), I still wondered late at night, should we stockpile, should we make a shelter in the cellar? But how long would it last, and what about all our friends?  Wouldn’t it be better to all go together?  We were so close to the American airbases- prime targets.

Thirteen years old.  Walking to Greenham Common as part of the Star March, a women’s march, one of many from all round the country.  In Luton the locals drove round and round in between our tents whilst were in bed inside them.  There’s still a photo on my mum’s wall of me and a young punk woman called Rosie sitting in front of the Greenham Common fence.

At boarding school, lots of RAF children there.  The headmaster used to call us after breakfast if we had any post, one day a fat packet of Animal Aid leaflets came for me.  He said, ‘What’s that confounded girl up to now?!’  I gave out graphic photos of monkey head transplants to my peers.

Nothing’s changed really, I just pretend to fit in, that’s all.

 

Thank you very much for reading

Throwback Thursday: The Process by Which It Happens

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The Process by Which It Happens

First published in July 2017

I am not aiming for balance, or a balanced life, oh no, Elizabeth Gilbert says you cannot do that and I largely concur.  I am aiming for a happy life subject to circumstances and a ‘spiritual’ life whatever the circumstances, indeed friction helps me grow.  I am glad to be developing and all my life is helping me to do that (all my life as in all that’s going on in my life right now and all my life as in past, present and future).  I fully know I may concentrate on one part sometimes and other parts other times and that life will show me what to do next.

Money:  ‘Studying’ (aka obsessively binge watching) Shameless USA, reading about the Buy Nothing movement, hibernating, in order to get my finances under control.  I didn’t set out to watch Shameless in order to do this, but I am sure it helped.  Spend as little as possible.  Who needs money when you’ve got words.  Not being flippant about people who don’t have money for food, I just mean that I can cope with staying in etc because I have this to do.

Work:  I got locked in my pattern again:  I take on too much, get too tired, or in this case, there just was too much happening (lots of people leaving/off sick); me pretending to everyone including myself that it is okay and not accessing support.  I end up feeling burned out, thinking I have to meet the every emotional, professional, advisory and every other need of everyone in my team whilst also doing a good job for my patients, other dept. duties, answering emails, thinking up new stuff, keeping one step ahead, keeping everyone happy… all of which is obviously ludicrously impossible.

The next thing that happens is that I start to get self conscious and paranoid, worrying about what everyone thinks of me, wondering if anything I do is any good, wishing I could start over again and be different- stop being shy, communicate better, stop avoiding the strong senior managers because I’m intimidated.  I avoid criticism, I am scared of it so I avoid people, and that just makes everything worse…

To contradict what I just wrote, I have actually in many ways been more relaxed at work.   I have stopped to chat.  I have worked slowly.  I have left things undone.  I have chosen the fun things and put off the boring ones.  I have cancelled things to make my week manageable.  I have noticed that I usually go around on full pelt (resenting others who stop to chat!) and the busier I get, the more I take on; working up to the last minute so I am always late and stressed, as if I don’t deserve to take it easy and sit calmly in a room waiting for a meeting to start (I have done this at least once recently!).  It’s going to be an adjustment…

So although tonight’s writing mission was mainly about dealing with work stress, and was more about writing as therapy than writing, that doesn’t mean I don’t want to finish this book:  Don’t get distracted by the idea that you should be so ‘spiritual’ as to be above wanting or needing to do anything.  This might be idealised as sitting on top of a mountain meditating but in practice becomes eating oven chips and cold baked beans and watching rubbish on Netflix*.  A creative mind is like a border collie, remember…

*There is really great stuff on Netflix but it is definitely possible to waste time on it as well.

April 2020

Ah, the joy of burning out! Now that I’ve left it behind there are things I miss and value about that job: The feeling of working at the outer edges of my capabilities; the sheer creative freedom: being given big projects with little support and direction, and having a team to lead meant I could at least in part set the tone and direction of my department; the buzz of so much pressure, both external and from within myself. Finding creative ways to postitively engage patients and provide hope within a medium secure forensic setting was what I was good at and felt rewarding. Working in such a heartbreaking and violent setting meant that what we did felt really important, and the fact that we were there meant that we were strong. But ‘You can have it all, just maybe not all at the same time,’ and right now, working three days a week in an easier job, I have the time and space to keep on finishing my book.

Thank you very much for reading

 

Throwback Thursday: Big Magic 

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First published in July 2017

I read Elizabeth’s Gilbert’s book Big Magic, about creativity.  In it she mentions ‘those dreams where you dream you suddenly find another room or rooms in your house that you didn’t know you had’, and I thought, really, that’s a thing?  I have those dreams regularly.  I usually dream about the same flat, not one I have ever had in real life, but in my dreams I return to the same one over and over.  It’s one of those old terraced houses divided into flats; messy, lots of other flats around.  Each time I dream it, I rediscover a whole other set of rooms that are a bit neglected and that I have simply forgotten about.  In the dream I wonder what to do with them, which room to sleep in, what to use the rooms for; I suddenly have all this extra space I don’t know what to do with.

I also have other dreams, where I open a bag of rubbish or I open a drawer and it’s filled with old cat food tins that haven’t been washed and have gone off and are filled with maggots.  I have to somehow make myself quickly pick them up and get rid of them without looking at them otherwise I would be unable to do it.  And I’ve let all the other rubbish pile up as well, I can’t understand it, the cat food tins or the rubbish, and I am appalled.

In real life I can let my car get very messy, tissues, wrappers, dust and stones.  I am somewhat ashamed even though I still do it.  So I thought the dream was about that, that I was ashamed of myself.

Worse still, I sometimes dream about caged animals that I have forgotten to look after, that I somehow inexplicably forgotten I had and that are mercifully still alive despite no food or water.  I thought all these dreams were about shame, or at the very least, clattiness.

So when I continued reading and Elizabeth Gilbert went on to say that those dreams are all about ‘expansiveness and your life having more possibilities than you previously realised’, that was very pleasing to me.  Especially as this was exactly what I had been feeling:  the evening before I had gone out for dinner with two people that used to work in my team, young women on their first jobs, with me the manager of the team and their supervisor.  I had the sweet and rare experience of hearing about what I was like (it had echoes of a child asking its mother what was I like tell me what I was like when I was little…) That was a few years ago so I have probably changed a lot but still, no one really tells you what you are like, you can only guess.

When  I said that I thought that senior management preferred a man in my team to me because he’s always the same, always unemotional, always smartly dressed, and his car is neat and clean and mine is always messy they looked horrified.  Your leadership, your direction, your care, you’re amazing how you get it all done, we were so lucky we had you for support, they both said.  They reminded me of all the different tasks I do and the skills I have, and said that if I ever wanted or needed another job I’d have no problem getting one with the agency they work for.  The agency pays more so I could work fewer hours.  Listening to them, I felt all the possibilities, being able to do healing as well, expansiveness…  When I used to just think about all the bad stuff- I am messy, senior management probably disapprove of me, without realising, I actually have skills!  One of the women invited me to visit her in Sweden, a genuine invite, and hearing about her life there, how she’d moved there from Suffolk, was so interesting and inspiring and made it sound so easy.

It made it sound so easy to change your life.

On a more down to earth level, it took away my fear of redundancy, knowing there are plenty of jobs and the world is more than just my current workplace.  It’s such an amazing gift, the gift of peace of mind, and a sign that I am in tune with the universe.

I realised I had it wrong:  those dreams weren’t about my clattiness or my buried shames, they were about the hithererto unknown expansiveness and potential of my own life.   I have nothing to be ashamed of.  At worst, the unfed animals were a gentle chide or reminder about my sometimes neglected creative work…

Because although I am where I want to be writing wise anyway really, in terms of where I was this time last year and where I am now, undoubtedly I am an inconsistent and unfaithful bride to creativity.  I certainly don’t have Liz Gilbert’s dedication and approach; I have other things, true, an absorbing career which is practically a vocation- can you have two vocations, can you have them at the same time?  I suppose so, look at Nick Hornby and countless others.

This time last year (Christmas), I did a little review of life and I had an idea for something to write this year.  Then I got waylaid in Buddhism and other seeking and beyond seeking, even considering that writing was behind me along with all the different religions I had burned through, because, I had decided:  I am to cease all seeking behaviour, and writing is a seeking behaviour.  And maybe it was, maybe it is, but isn’t talking, isn’t breathing, isn’t yoga, and who makes up the rules anyway?

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The thing that got me writing again after I had abandoned it, was writing a spoken word piece for a friend’s 50th Birthday party, (a night of anything goes performance.)  She said it could be about anything, so I wrote a‘my spiritual journey’ thing,the only thing I felt able to write about.  I wrote it while listening to Rufus Wainright’s song  Go or go ahead on repeat, which he wrote after a crystal meth binge.

Liz G says creative inspiration can either come in a skin tingling rush or it can be quiet and you just get there by following your curiosity and clues and it leads you there.  Or it can be like this…  I read a book, it mentioned a dream, I listen to a song at just the right moment, I recall a dream, I write it down.  And now I am in such a clear eyed clear minded place, isn’t this the perfect place from which to write a book?

Thank you very much for reading

Rachel Hill

About the author

I am forty nine years old, married to John Hill, we live on a narrowboat in rural Northamptonshire, UK.
In March 2018 after selling our house and giving away 95% of our possessions we embarked on a year of slow travel in India and South East Asia. I’m writing a personal/spiritual/travel memoir of that year.

Follow me on Instagram thisisrachelhill

Throwback Thursday: So what would a fully integrated self look like anyway?

First published in July 2017*

So all this work, all this reflection, all this personal development…

I think a lot about integration; about needing to integrate the everyday and the ‘spiritual’**.  To integrate everything I have learned, my past and my present.  But what is it that I am trying to do?  Where am I trying to get to?  So I asked myself, what would my fully integrated self look like?  (And thereby, track backwards and work out how I would get there)

**I have gone off that word, but more on that later.

I have a- I don’t like the word brainstorm and I like the phrase ‘thought shower’ even less.  So let’s say I have a look into the fantasy looking glass, a loose limbed daydream about all the possibilities… 

What would my fully integrated self look like?

An acceptable weight, fit-ish but soft.  (In The Lovely Bones Alice Sebold writes: It was the 1970s, aerobics was barely even a word, women and girls were meant to be soft, not hard.)

Nice hair.  Make an appointment, and remake one for 2-3 months afterwards, instead of being locked into this rather childish habit of putting it off so that it ‘notices’ which actually means letting my hair look rubbish before I have it done.

No makeup.  Or Clinique counter assistant chosen makeup.

Confident at work, doing a good job without being stressed out of my mind.

Ok with money (‘You deserve it’, ‘No, you deserve to be debt free’).

Relaxed about housework and day to day life/chores etc.

Regularly exploring the outer frontiers and having fun with my husband.

Writing or thinking about writing whilst being aware that it is the process not the product, because when I’m thinking about writing, I’m thinking about life.  Or ‘at peace with how I do my writing’ but I don’t know if that’s possible- the tension and the analysis is all part of it, I feel.

A wardrobe I don’t have to think about.  Everything I need- spare track pants, for example, that don’t trail on the floor, aren’t broken, that I like, that fit nicely and that feel nice, because I chose cotton and I tried them on first.

Do it right first time so I don’t have to think about this stuff day to day, so that I can spend my time and energy on:  Being conscious of a ‘spiritual’ dimension to life; to love, to be hereto live, to face everything fully awake.

When nothing’s happening, to have a silent(-ish) mind.

All the above allows the below.  Getting it together enables me, frees me, makes me strong enough, available enough, un-distracted enough and energetic enough to be what I want to be:  A facilitator, a safe harbour, a healer.  A person God would send to someone praying for help.

*April 2020:

I almost never wear any makeup, do my hair or go to the hairdresser’s. I do have plenty of sweatpants and a pair of thermal tights and a thermal long sleeve top (thank you Go Oudoors and M&S).

For the past almost two years I’ve been totally committed to writing a book and I’m editing it now. I still experience self doubt but I keep on going.

I don’t really get concerned about housework; yesterday I cleaned the shower and sink, but that was very unusual.

I feel pretty much anti consumerism and pretty much only buy what I actually need.

I have a part time, much easier job.

I don’t know what I weigh. I feel okay though.

I don’t do healing anymore but I am conscious of being calm and looking out for and supporting those who seem anxious or unhappy.

I’m still having lots of fun and still exploring the outer frontiers with my husband!

As for integrating it all, I have come to understand that, as my husband said the other day, ‘Your life is your Ashram.’

Thank you for reading

About the author

I am forty nine years old, married to John Hill, we live on a narrowboat in rural Northamptonshire, UK.
In March 2018 after selling our house and giving away 95% of our possessions we embarked on a year of slow travel in India and South East Asia. I’m writing a personal/spiritual/travel memoir of that year.

Follow me on Instagram thisisrachelhill