Tough Love in Winter

Yesterday I talked about ‘Big Mama’s’ tough love (The Shape-shifter Reloaded). Today I wanted to share just a snapshot of such an experience, which began at a point when I had just arrived at the foothills of healing.  As the years went on – 5 of them to be precise – I understood that this process will continue for the rest of my life because temptation is with me everyday.  I have to be vigilant because I simply cannot afford to go back to the old ways. Whenever I do slip, I simply observe and acknowledge it; tomorrow is another day.
      But that's not all. Mother Nature's healing also confers gifts as an expression of her gratitude, because when we heal ourselves, we also heal the earth; and when we heal the earth we heal others.  So watch out for Gifts of Healing, might be the title of a book I can feel emerging.

       The big freeze of the last week or so reminds me of another January, about four years ago when the UK was in the midst of its coldest winter for 30 years.  By then I had been through the first year of the breakdown of my health; I’d been forced to give up my job, and the bank had my number on speed dial (see Mortgaging My Life Force, December 2012).  It was at this precise time that my boiler decided to give up the ghost.

          Okay, I said to the gods, my health has completely broken down, life sucks, and now I have to spend a winter on the North face of the Eiger. Well bring it on, I can take it; I’m up for the challenge. The truth was I really had little choice; I was too ill and near destitute to do anything else. The beggar, my nemesis, had come to live in my house.
            Each day I had a 3-minute speed date with the independent electric shower in my bathroom, before dashing back to a pre-heated kitchen. It was the only place that gave me some respite from the intense cold, as the oven and hobs provided the only heat in the house.
            I spent that winter and the next mostly in bed with thick socks on, a hat, scarf, gloves and two hot water bottles – one at my feet and one to hug.  Until that is, my own personal global warming syndrome put paid to all that. (And that is another story).  Sometimes we arrive at a place where there is little choice but to surrender. It is said that through surrender we come to recognize a force greater than ourselves.

          With hindsight, I came to appreciate that simply surrendering to and accepting my artic living conditions actually saved my life.  But I honestly do not know how I survived those months of extreme cold except that for many years I had practiced a type of meditation which teaches one to simply observe life as it flows by, without getting caught up in aversion or craving, however unpleasant or enjoyable the experience – just observing life as it is. It is as it is.

          Well this particular artic experience fell into the ‘grossly unpleasant’ category but the old monk’s teaching served me well.  At a deep level I understood that the life force was acting to prolong itself within my own body, and I was going to co-operate with it; but that would be far more difficult than I envisaged. I would have to contend with many more ‘tough love’ challenges.

There was nothing I could do except to go with the flow. My lifestyle was now simple and kept tightly within budget: frugality by necessity. There was no excess consumption of energy either through what I ate, or utilized in the home beyond that which was absolutely vital for my daily needs.  Big Mama had me by the short and curlies.

During this period of illness, the enforced changes in my very existence resulted in a dramatic reduction in my personal carbon footprint. A high degree of authenticity was an integral part of this healing journey. There could be no half measures; I was required to walk the talk in every sense.  

     At this time Mother Nature is generating her own healing process, and many of us, in one way or another and not necessarily through our physical health, are being asked to accompany her on that journey back to equilibrium.


  1. Its so easy to get lost in the apparent stuff that shows up and distracts us from the real staying with the purpose. Good stuff - and great for anyone to read who finds themselves suddenly and abruptly in a new landscape. The past is another country.

  2. Its very satisfying to make an art of observing life without getting caught up in the drama. The monks say if we can go there and stay there, even for a short time, then it indicates a degree of mastery. And from that place you begin to appreciate that anything is possible because change is the only constant in life. I like that.

  3. Yes indeed - it takes a long time to find enough turbine power to fly above it and get a birds eye view of the landscape and its exquisite system - and to realise that its just what it is and needs to be right at this moment! When the student is ready the teacher appears!


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