I have tried so many times to be ALL IN. But in more cases than not it has ended up trapping me harder rather than liberating me out into living my dreamed way of Wild Magical Freedom that I have so passionately sought. It doesn’t seem to fit and so I’ve finally found something that I feel great in.
One of my close friends often lovingly called me a ‘lady of extremes’. I tried the oil cleansing method to clean my face and used so much oil that it clogged my pores. I then used a homemade apple cider vinegar toner and put so much on that I burnt my face. #naturalbeautyperils I organised my annual birthday trip and filled it so full of activities that people were knackered and unable to enjoy what I lovingly wanted to offer. I have often launched so quickly into things that I have been unable to integrate them as I go and make full most of their potential.
In my first attempt at writing my book I threw absolutely everything beyond work and meeting super basic needs out of the window. I even threw some of the vitally important basic needs out of the window, in the very early stages. I stayed up so late some nights writing and worked back to back days for a long time with no play.
And then I bought this tree I found around Easter time - a twisted hazel tree. It was beautiful and magical and sat young and vital in its yellow pot, it’s first leaves beginning to unfurl. I was grateful and excited to take it home. Little did it (or I) know what was in store for it. I love rituals and find that they bring magic, beauty and power into my life. I thought that it would be really celebratory and meaningful to decorate it for Spring, "like a Christmas tree in Winter", the florist remarked, and then once I had finished writing this stage I would plant it in the earth to celebrate my landing into my new life which I had ALL IN been suspending until I had finished all of my writing (wanting to be ALL IN finished and done with the old so that I could be ALL IN ready for the new).
ALL IN after ALL IN day passed, which became weeks, which turned into months. The tree started to look sadder and sadder and more unhealthy. I started doing my morning meditations and yoga practices around it in a desperate attempt to bring it love and ‘healing energy’. It was a fucking joke.
I told myself I needed to hurry up and be even more ALL IN to get it done. But I couldn’t do any more - wasn’t I already ALL IN? I was already flagging hard with the lack of nurture that I was showing myself that mirrored so perfectly (as it so always does) the lack of nurture that I was showing the tree just by keeping it inside all of this time.
And then one day, when ALL IN pushed me to my limit, I did the unthinkable (gosh!) for my then current way of thinking and I dropped the writing and promptly planted the poor tree directly in the earth (in the garden of a nearby museum - #sorrynotsorry) where the beautiful thing Goddamn belonged. Revolutionary! Such a simple and logical thing to do, I realise, but ALL IN thinking can be so black and white and polarised and, above all, out of touch with the needs of the present moment. It can make us cray cray! It is a really rigid goal-based way of thinking that strangles life. In this case I was literally killing the tree that I had bought to set free and plant in the earth (with the small but disastrous caveat of it needing to be in my ALL IN timing).
Seeing it in front of me (once I had dusted off and hid my tools quickly in my bag), after my spot of slightly frantic but passionate guerrilla gardening, was so liberating. And it inspired me to start to change my whole way of being and writing after that. How we do one thing can indeed often be how we do everything. It was powerful and starting to say no to ALL IN for the first time in that way helped to invite other ways into my consciousness. I decided that I needed to get back into the earth too and although I had been contemplating them for a while I identified my set of ‘roots’ that I needed to have in place so that I could get through in a balanced way. I certainly didn’t heed what I had ’thought out' straight away as there is always such a catch up period between realising or understanding something and then integrating, embodying and living it, which I am still moving towards. But, if we commit to it in ALL THE WAY fashion we are forgiven for how long it takes us to get there because if we are just moving towards this place then we are already going ALL THE WAY. It’s so kind and it's so effective - as all the best things in life are.
The way I see it is this...
ALL IN is building - it is product based with a timeline that normally comes to an end. Sometimes this is what is needed. Especially when we need to build emergency shelters or houses for homeless souls. But, for the rest of the time, ALL THE WAY is gardening. It is knowing that the garden is going to continue to unfold into the future, throughout the seasons. It will grow, flower, bloom and peak and then start to wane again and die to enrich the soil again for new growth. But we don’t stop gardening or only invest and look after it in summer, if we want to ever see a summer again. We keep tending to the needs of the present moment in the garden, consistently, over time - even in the absence of beautiful flowers or perhaps even signs of life. We trust that things are working underneath the soil and we put full faith and action in giving it every possibility to thrive again. Or, perhaps it will get built on and the beautiful story of unfolding will end there. #saveourearth Point is...
Didn’t the Mayans build their way into oblivion? Those folks on Easter Island? I know we don’t know what really happened and I am certainly not an expert in ancient history. But, isn’t that what we are currently doing in our society and on our planet? Building our way across the earth, clearing wilderness and biodiversity rich areas to use for building or other purposes without stopping for one second to assess the present overall needs and garden them?
The most ironic thing is that in all its promised but unfulfilled power the ALL IN way actually comes from a weak place of fear and an attitude of scarcity and lack. It is control - because trust is lacking. ALL THE WAY is loving kindness. And it is not wishy washy - it is strong.
The Moon shows me, so beautifully, ALL THE WAY. She doesn’t go from full to new and invisible in one night. She doesn’t flit between the two states - crashing full on here and then disappearing-nowhere-to-be-seen there. She doesn’t believe in on the wagon and then off the wagon. She goes steady as she waxes and wanes ALL THE WAY between the states slowly (although as planets go she actually moves pretty quickly, but still, she keeps on going in the same rotation consistently, showing us her state of phase with her gradually increasing or decreasing presence to lack of it in the sky).
ALL IN is perfectionism and tyranny. And impossible. It is setting ourselves up for failure. ALL THE WAY is compassion and true commitment - through the mess and the wobbles and the setbacks.
ALL IN is the hare and ALL THE WAY is the tortoise. That ancient wisdom that is so simple but so easy NOT to embody sometimes, especially when our culture promotes the all in idealised, unobtainable way of getting quick ‘fix all' and 'see results within 48 hours' fixes, investing ALL the money in commercial products, crash or extreme dieting - no meat, all meat, no grain, all grain - whatever you call it regimes or the well intended detox week followed by accidental but common retox week(s).
In the true ALL THE WAY, rather than ALL IN, way of thinking, there is a balance to be struck, of course. Sometimes we do need to ALL IN fast or abstain from things or ALL IN feed on things to regain a balance and reset - and not just food. And, I personally think some things do need to be all in. Things like the truth (when spoken with integrity). But not in controlling our lives.
ALL THE WAY involves making mistakes as well as making it right. If we followed ALL IN we would give up on ourselves or others each time we or them ‘failed' which would never get us ALL THE WAY. ALL IN leaves no room for growth or change or the unending beauty of life.
As an avid ex-follower of and believer in the ALL IN school of thought and way of being, I would like to acknowledge the useful part that this stage has played on my journey of growth towards the way of Wild Magical Freedom. "Thank you ALL IN! You’ve been a tyrannical gem! But hey, things just aren’t working out for us and I’ve found some way new that nurtures my soul like you, unfortunately, never could. Stop trying to control me! I’d rather be free than ‘good’ all the time."
Learning what does not work can be the best way of finding out what does. And I can say with heartfelt joy that ALL IN just does not work for me. The neural pathways in my brain that are all about ALL IN often light up and invite me seductively down them. I’m more comfortable there because it’s familiar. The limbic part of my brain wants me to stay away from any change because it regards all of it as a danger, regardless of whether that change can be life-empowering or not. But before I know it I’m down that path and flogged and out of touch and so not where I intended to be. But the more I go down the ALL THE WAY pathways that I have been gardening, growing a relationship with and strengthening, especially in the past couple of weeks, the more amazing it turns out to be when I saunter (or sometimes walk hesitantly) down them. The harvest provided from these ways of gardening is abundant beyond words.
As my amazing coach and fountain of infinite wisdom, Swati Jr*, said to me recently "when in hell, keep walking.” And sometimes that isn’t walking but falling, or pausing, or crawling. It’s just showing up, with the best that I've got. ALL THE WAY… NOT giving up if ALL IN doesn’t work, because quite frankly, it never will. And ALL OUT is the same, of course, on the other extreme. Swinging from one side or extreme to the other - from tight control to completely disbanded loose chaos - never finding stability, has been a familiar part of my life. We can save our lives from unnecessary strife if we take it off the agenda and see ALL IN/OUT marketing that comes from both within and outside of us for what it really is - an attempt to control, rooted in fear.
As is thrown around alot and something that I have personally repeatedly found to be true - 'what we step towards steps towards us' and so also what we move away from moves away from us, if we do so truly and aren’t somewhere in our depths being drawn to it (another story for another day).
I believe that until we ditch ALL IN we cannot be our all.
Balance will take us home and with the current Equinox it is definitely the season for it - and that’s where I’m landing baby! Do you want to go ALL THE WAY with me? Make contACT and let’s walk, talk, embody, live and celebrate Wild Magical Freedom together.