The Only Answer

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Dear Seamus,

There is a crispness in the air not common of a typical February morning. It is my birthday and you and I are up early. At your request, the movie ‘The Croods’ is playing on the television. Our whole household could very well recite most of the lines from the film, such is the number of times it has been re-played.
I tucked your legs underneath a blanket on the lounge.

“Are you cosy”? I asked
“I not cosy”; You replied, “I SEAMUS”!

I am perched on the other couch, notebook in hand and filled with inspiration. I have not written a letter to you in some months. Not for lack of trying I might add, but it just didn’t seem to flow out of me in the usual way. If I try to write when I feel like that it feels forced, so I leave it be.

There have been beautiful things to write to you about which has made the experience more frustrating. Last December I finally fulfilled a dream to travel to Uluru. An experience every bit as powerful as I had imagined and then some! A week after we returned, your Daddy and I were married. An incredible day of celebration, love and intimacy.

As is the dualistic nature of this world we live in, I also endured some painful experiences. They came in such quick succession it felt like the Universe was throwing flaming meteorites at me. After the joys of December, the challenges of January seemed almost impossible to bear. These events triggered a whirlwind of questioning and I quickly became a prisoner of my own mind.

It all reached a desperate crescendo with the ultimate question:
“What is the meaning of all of this”?!

One of my greatest fears is to have lived a meaningless life. That all of the experiences to which I had attached such strong emotions were actually just pointless. These thoughts were going against the very grain, the very essence of who I thought I was. It was painful and I felt like I was being torn apart.

I have always wanted to know. I have always questioned, enquired and investigated. I was the child who asked ‘why’? I was the teenager who didn’t do what I was told because I questioned authority. I was the employee who needed to understand the purpose of what I was required to do.

I am the friend who openly listens when others are troubled and I ask them why they think they feel that way. I am the wife that wants to dig deep in her husband’s life, that I may know the roots of the trees that grow in his garden. I am the Mother who has an understanding of herself and how she was shaped, so that I may help you find your own shape, in your own time, in your own way.

My search for the ultimate meaning became even more poignant when the Oncologist rang me a few weeks ago to discuss my latest scan results. He explained to me that the disease has rapidly progressed and didn’t appear to be responding to the current treatment protocol. His suggestion was to stop my medications and begin chemotherapy, sooner rather than later. The aim now being to control symptoms of the disease and to prolong life a few months more. That is a known trajectory in medical oncology.
End stage cancer – chemotherapy – small extension of life – death.

To receive that news, in the frame of mind I was in, felt like fear had swallowed me whole. I was groping in the dark for the compass to get my bearings. I was backed into the corner. I felt like my only life line was to know the reason why all this was happening. So many questions. Can I choose my own life experience? Is it already written? Who do I believe? Have I switched one set of illusions that made me feel bad, for another set of illusions that made me feel better? Have I bought into the idea of manifestation when the truth is it’s all mapped out anyway? Do I really have any choices?

Through incredible synchronicity, I then began to remember. A yearning to re-read a book… a long conversation with a family member… a prayer to my Father that I may know in my heart what to do…

I remembered that the questioning mind will always churn out more questions. When the questioning mind finds answers, it will then question the answers. It is the nature of the beast.

Your Dad and I had a meeting with the community nurse, who has become a dear friend. With an open mind I listened as we went through the details of chemotherapy treatment. I leafed through the glossy pamphlet, the cover emblazoned with a flower and middle aged woman smiling off into the distance. On the pages within I relived my experience with chemotherapy six years prior. Every cell in my body resisted the very idea of it and I knew, in my deepest being, the answer. The only answer I needed to know in that moment.

With all the courage I could muster and your Father at my side, I said no to chemotherapy. I said no the known. I said yes to the uncharted path.

At the heart of it, the only peace is in not knowing. So I found that place. The compass is within me. As are the answers. Fear was keeping me from them. So I released the fear.

When I said no to chemotherapy, one door closed and I felt one hundred doors of possibility open in every direction. It was remarkable and it was powerful as I stepped into the unknown.

Darling boy I am telling you, when your current situation is telling you that there is no hope, that is exactly where hope lives. At these times your only responsibility is to dream the biggest dreams you can dream! I dreamed you into my life and you are the biggest reminder to me every day, that dreams do come true.
One step at a time, one answer at a time, one dream at a time. The rest is up to God.

“We have more answers ready within us, if only we choose to listen”Conversations with God book 1

Note: I remain under the close medical supervision of my Oncologist and GP. I have said no to chemotherapy but continue with my current treatment protocol. All my treatment decisions have been informed choices with open discussions and the support of my medical team.

A Rose is a Rose

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Dear Seamus,

I am not much of a gardener but I seem to have an affinity with roses. It may be because I am their namesake, or it could be because they are sturdy glorious plants that are not easily killed. When we moved into the farmhouse I discovered a few wild rose bushes along the fence line. I donned some gloves and took to the largest rose bush with secateurs. I relied on instinct as I removed some of the tangled branches. I periodically stood back to observe my handy work before trimming a little more from here and there. I was paid handsomely for my work when a number of buds appeared shortly afterwards.

I watered the rose bush and checked on the progress of the buds. One morning, to my great delight, a stunning red rose appeared. I was so excited!

At first the crimson petals were tightly bound together above a long thorn covered stem, as though guarding a wondrous secret. Slowly they began to open over the coming days. Before long it stood fully opened, brandishing magnificence. Tall and elegant as it bathed in the sunshine.

I carefully trimmed it from the bush with a few other buds. You insisted on carrying them to the house in your bucket. I warned you about the thorns but you are a curious kinaesthetic learner. I kissed your pricked fingers better and your briary run-in was quickly forgotten.

I loved looking at those roses sitting on the dining table, resplendent in my favourite vase.

When they began to look a little tired I added sugar to some fresh water. They revived for my viewing pleasure for a few more days. Then, as roses do during their life cycle, they began to shed some petals.

As I stood looking at the petals sitting on the table I recalled an email my friend Juliet sent me.

When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, my Oncologist advised I was to begin chemotherapy immediately to try and contain the disease. After four cycles of chemotherapy I was to have a radical mastectomy.

On the eve of the surgery I sat down with my laptop to check my emails. I was feeling nervous but mostly I was feeling sick from all the chemotherapy. By this time I was sporting only a handful of hairs on my head and my eyebrows and eyelashes were barely hanging in there. I was literally shedding my skin.

Juliet had wanted to make the trip from Sydney to be at the hospital but commitments prevented her. Instead she sent me a beautiful email. She reminded me to experience everything in all its shades and contrasts, knowing that it would not alter who I really was, in my heart. She told me that she would send angels in her place to watch over me and ease the process. Then she told me that a rose is no less a rose just because one of its petals has dropped.

The next morning I allowed myself to feel everything without hindrance. The fear, the anxiety, the strange enveloping calm and the hope for the future. True to her word, Juliet sent some heavenly guardians. As I sat alone and gowned up in pre-op waiting for the surgeon, I found myself surrounded by eight men of differing ages and ethnicities. It was hard to make them out with clarity but I could see they were dressed in white. They stood, four on each side, with their hands on the railing of the hospital bed. The doctor came in and asked if I was alright sitting there by myself. He must have thought it odd to find me with a smile on my face.

“Yes, thank you. I am fine”. I was not alone. I was in the company of love.

Soon afterwards I awoke from surgery and one of my petals was gone. Yet I still emerged a rose.

A modification to my physical form did not take away from the very essence of who I was. Just as the petals lay on our dining room table, the flower they came from was still a rose. Even when all the petals had fallen off it was no less a rose.

There is an incredible reality that is unseen yet lives through us. It is the spirit within that grows the petals. The soul is the marrow that forms the stem and the thorns. Our heart flows through the roots.

Don’t identify purely with your body Seamus, it is not who you are. You are breathing your body, your body is not breathing you.
Long after the petals have fallen you will still be the rose. A magnificent flower in a heavenly garden.

“What was said to the rose that made it open, was said to me here in my heart”Rumi

The Miracle is Now

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Dear Seamus,

Your birth coincided with a terminal cancer diagnosis for me. Amidst the fear, shock and broken dreams I heard a quiet voice that assured me everything was going to be ok. I chose to believe in those words and I made a decision to reach for a miracle.

I have had a strong focus since that time to be healed. I have read many books that have inspired me, educated me, soothed me and provoked serious questioning. I have dabbled in vegetarianism. I have meditated. I have chosen to eat a lot of chocolate with as much joy as possible. I have written letters to you so that you may know me if I am not here with you as you grow into an adult.

I have prayed and been prayed for. I have tearfully admitted my fears to others and listened with love to theirs. I have enjoyed beautiful lightness with a soaring, joy filled heart. I have crashed into the depths of despair where bed is the only safe place I know.

I have been hospitalised with severe physical side effects of disease with an innocent astonishment. I have panicked and worried about little aches and pains.

I have happily day dreamed about future events of various times in your life in which I am present. I have gone to bed some nights fearing that it will be my last.

All the while I have desired a miracle. Something in me knew it with such certainty that the largest and most ferocious fears could not distinguish its vibrant little flame.

My body is up against a barrage of multiple medications which makes me more susceptible to fatigue. My mind and my drive, however, sometimes rage ahead with a determination that requires a younger fitter physical form. So from time to time I am faced with feeling burned out and exhausted and I find it difficult to do the simplest of tasks. I am reminded of my physical restrictions. Let me tell you darling, I do not like it one bit. Sometimes I can be graceful and accepting and other times I am frustrated and furious.

Two days ago I sat on the edge of the bed in my underwear, too weary to go any further in dressing myself after a shower. Only a week ago I had spent a wonderful weekend in Sydney, attending a workshop and catching up with friends. I had felt invigorated and energetic, happy to enjoy the company of friends I rarely see, along with some new ones. Now here I was, head in my hands, sobbing. You stood in the doorway and watched me intently before disappearing down the hallway. You reappeared with a small container in your hands. As a gift you had been given a large tube of smarties and I had put the last of them into a plastic dish and kept them on the top shelf of the fridge.

Your little hands fumbled with the clasps but you managed to get the lid off. You tilted your head to the side and walked towards me. You leaned on my leg and carefully picked out a chocolate. With big blue eyes gazing up at me you pushed it against my mouth and nodded.

“Choga”? You nodded again. I laughed and accepted the smartie.

So I just sat there with tear stained cheeks as you fed me smarties. You had an incredibly intuitive sense of the situation and proceeded to nurture me. You proved to me that it is indeed a Universal truth that chocolate makes everything better.

Something else became crystal clear to me. I had been seeking and reaching for a miracle of healing, yet in that moment it was so obvious that the miracle was happening now.

A moment of sharing is a miracle. One human being showing love to another is a miracle. That moment of feeling overwhelmed and tired is a miracle. The fact I am able to have the occasional crappy day two years after a terminal diagnosis is the miracle.

I am the miracle, you are the miracle. The miracle is now.

With gratitude I took down my vision boards and gave them to God (and the recycling bin). I have stared at that blank wall several times now, feeling tiny sparks of excitement about what is to come into my life next.

Sometimes we ask for a miracle and become so busy co-creating it and visualising it that we forget to simply put out the welcome mat and turn the kettle on. The miracle will come. It may appear to be late or disguised as something else that you never expected, but it will come.

Seamus, never hesitate to ask for a miracle. Your only job after that is to keep your eyes and heart open, for miracles are everywhere.

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle” – Albert Einstein

The Shining Son

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Dear Seamus,

I had the great pleasure of celebrating another birthday on the weekend. I have always enjoyed having a birthday but never so much as I do now. Its meaning has deepened and as I awoke on the morn of my forty-first birthday, life reverberated with a powerful richness.

In the past my birthday celebrations had been a chance to get my friends together. A dinner or some drinks, it didn’t really matter provided I could enjoy their company. I didn’t really care for the obligation of gift giving but lovingly welcomed many beautiful things over the years. The festivities always had an element of the care-free to them and the aging aspect never bothered me. A birthday would present me with an opportunity to dream big for the coming twelve months. To imagine one of my creative endeavours taking off or to be united with a soul mate. Perhaps a trip overseas or one of my writing projects being completed. There were so many things to yearn for.

Now I feel that the aging is the most important thing. You see, my dream is to get old. In fact I am often drawn to people older than myself as I felt they could offer me something more. I loved to hear the stories of someone who had been born at a different time to me. There was always much to learn about life.

I have pictures of old women on a vision board on my bedroom wall. There is one smiling woman that I am drawn to every time. Grey hair frames her weathered face. Eyes that twinkle with decades of memories and experiences. A smile that is innocent and knowing all at once. She has been the observer of a long life. Her appearance just reflects all the changes she has seen and her participation in a lifetime journey. For me that can only be beautiful. I do not see ugliness in aging.

That’s what I want. As I become long in the tooth, I will delight in being ‘no spring chicken’. Seamus I want you to look upon me in my antiquated form, knowing that we had time together. I want my golden years to begin right now and go on for many more to come because the currency between us is priceless. The currency is love.

It is my desire to watch you grow up and to participate in your life. To see you evolve into a little boy and a teenager and then into a man. To cherish those small moments of ordinariness that are the gems of our every day. To wonder who on earth taught you that swear word and ponder whether it may have been me. To dab a Dettol soaked cotton wool ball on a grazed knee. To ask you to get that jar from the top shelf that I cannot reach. To warmly greet that someone special that you have brought home to meet us.

I want to get to know who you are. To listen to your dreams and aspirations. To tell you my stories. To make memories with you.

Last year I had the idea of all of us making a painting with our handprints. Your brothers and your Daddy painted theirs while I helped you with yours. I then set about creating my own canvas. I was very pleased with my effort and as I stood admiring my work I did not notice you dipping your hand in some yellow paint. You thought you would make a mark on my creation and before I could grab you, you had hold of the top corner. Afterwards when I looked at your little hand print, I realised it looked like a sun. It was so incredibly perfect and I could not have planned anything better.

As the sun returned to the same place it was on the day I was born, I recognised that you are the shining heavenly body giving light to my life.

You are my Shining Son and I want to bask in your glow for many more years to come.

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage”Lao Tzu

The Solar Return of Seamus

A special moment

Dear Seamus,

Seamus tomorrow you are turning one. There have been many moments, all strung together to link the 365 days from when you entered the world, to the celebration of being in it for a whole year.

In the days after your birth we were told I needed important, urgent tests and treatment which could not be performed at the local hospital in which you were born. They would find me a bed as soon as possible but the message from the major Hospital was that you could not stay on the Oncology Ward and your Daddy would have to find alternative accommodation with you. Your Daddy and I were distraught at the idea of being separated but resigned ourselves to it. When we arrived at the Canberra Hospital in the early evening, we were greeted by a beautiful nurse named Cheryl. She smiled and said how she’d been expecting us and we had apologised for being late. She led us down a rabbit warren like corridor and showed us to the room at the very end. It was the biggest on the ward and had a view of the garden. There was a hospital gurney close to the door, and a small fridge next to two armchairs beneath the window. She explained how the big leather couch folded out into a bed and asked what else we needed. When we explained that we had been told you were not allowed to stay she was outraged.

‘Nonsense’! She said; ‘You must stay together and if anyone has an issue they can take it up with me’!

With that she left the room and returned with extra bedding and a hot meal. Shortly after that a nurse from maternity left a cot, some baby blankets and a packet of nappies outside the door. Nurses were arriving to take my blood pressure and sneak a peek at your gorgeous little face. Strangers would knock politely at the door and hand me beautifully hand knitted booties. A lady doing pastoral care popped in to ask if I need to talk or pray with her and when she spied the empty cot she became very curious as to your whereabouts. She returned three times before lunch when your Daddy finally brought you back from a stroll to the shop. She gazed at you and put her hand on her chest.

‘Oh, so beautiful’ she told us. We already knew.

A gaggle of aunties, uncles and cousins descended to fuss over you and take a million photographs.

It turned out that even though I was the patient, you were the one everyone kept coming to see.

So you see, we were in it together from the beginning. You were such an amazing comfort to me. You were my light at the end of the tunnel. You were the dessert if I ate all my green vegetables. You were the golden trophy I would be holding as I stood on the dais.

This past year has been a challenge in so many ways. It has also been a real test of my limits; physical, mental and emotional. I have been exhausted from sleepless nights and the side effects of treatment. I have been overwhelmed by the magnitude of the reality of raising a child. When you were five months old I stood crying in your bedroom in a moment of deep insecurity, clutching baby powder and a size 1 coat hanger and telling your Father that I just didn’t think I was cut out for this whole Motherhood thing.

However, you power my will to do the very best I can. Your very presence is the force I sometimes rely on when I feel I cannot source my own energy. By looking after you I have been able to make some loving changes to the way I experience life. My pride and fixed determination to always do things for myself is softening and fading away. I am getting better at asking for help. I am getting better at letting others in. I am getting better at showing my vulnerability. I am getting better at being in the moment. I am getting better at accepting that I need not be nervous when I am experiencing happiness. I am getting better at knowing that I deserve it.

It was breakfast time and you were about nine months old. I was holding you and you were looking around the room. Suddenly your eyes fixed on mine and you stared at me intensely. It was like you saw the real me, who I am inside. My true self. I felt like we were experiencing a deep soul connection. Then you laughed and kissed me on the mouth. It was such an incredible and powerful moment we shared I felt like I would burst with joy.

These occurrences are laced with timelessness and beauty beyond my comprehension. They are the jewels that live in my heart and are fast collecting.
I am energised by your lust for life and curiosity. I am fuelled by the desire to provide a space where your tenacity and spirit can experience freedom. As your Mother I choose for you to know, without a shadow of a doubt, that you are treasured and embraced within an extended family circle of incredible love.

Whilst there have been plenty of moments over the past year that any new Mother would call normal, there are many things about your year old life that have been unique. Yesterday it was my turn to get up to you in the morning. As I stood in the doorway I saw our hand reared baby Kangaroo, Ruby, was standing beside your cot. She had obviously helped herself in through the doggy door sometime through the night, so god only knows how long she had been in the house. You were having a lovely chat to her. Both of you looked up at me and I couldn’t help but smile.

I never wanted normal for you anyway.

Happy first birthday my darling, thank you for giving me the incredible gift of being your Mother.

“When a mother hugs a child, energy is flowing. That energy is invisible – we have called it love, warmth. Something is jumping from the mother to the child, and not only from the mother to the child, from the child to the mother also. That is why a woman is never so beautiful as when she becomes a mother”Osho

Forgiveness; the Path to Love

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Dear Seamus,

Throughout life we all get wounded. It is inevitable. So as much as I want you to go through life never feeling hurt, rejected, sad, grief or any number of emotions we know as ‘bad’, it is impossible. Not only that, in my own life I know the value of experiencing the whole contrast of emotions and experiences and how it seasons you. What I would like to do for you is to instil a firm sense of self-love so that you will simply allow these emotions but not cling to them. You won’t let them define you or allow you to become the victim. There is a tool that you can learn that has amazing power and ability to dissolve the past and any wounds. That tool is forgiveness.

I received my first wound when I was born. Whatever her circumstances were at the time, my birth Mother felt she could not be a Mother to me so she gave me up for adoption. My first six weeks of life were spent in a hospital being cared for by nursing staff. My Mum and Dad, who could not have children, applied to adopt a child. Our destinies aligned and it was they who arrived at the hospital in Sydney to collect me and take me home as their own.

I don’t ever remember a conversation with them about being adopted as they explained it when I was very young. So I grew up knowing it. I had a sense of rejection that hung over me like a cloud and despite being reminded that I was very much cherished and wanted, I always felt my heart was searching and seeking for that feeling of belonging. I was very interested to come across some information just recently about the study into emotional memories. The example of adopted children was used to highlight the theory. Even though many babies are adopted quite young and have no cognitive memory of their separation from their Mother, the majority will still suffer from abandonment issues. They grow up knowing their place in a family and no matter how much they are loved, there is an emotional memory that stays with them.

As I grew older I bought into many beliefs about myself. If I was criticised it was confirmation that I was not good enough. My sensitive nature made me an easy target for bullying at school, which confirmed my belief that I was unlovable. I was crippled by depression and with nobody to talk to about it, I muddled on believing that nobody would ever understand me. By the time I was a young woman I was an expert at masking my emotional pain and became a perfectionist to make up for a terrible feeling of unworthiness. I blindly wandered through my adult life until the amazing gift of cancer rescued me.

When I was pregnant with you I was so determined to be there in a loving physical way when you were born, to be totally available to you. Unlike my own experience almost 40 years prior of not having a Mother with which to bond and be held and connect with in my first weeks of life. When you were born I was so incapacitated my plans went out the window. In the hospital I wanted to do whatever I could, even though I was very limited. I depended so much on your Father because I was mostly confined to the bed. He got up to you every four hours for your feeds, he wandered down the corridor to the nursery to prepare your bottles and he bathed you while I leaned on the sink for support. Each time he left the room, my anxiety levels would rise and you would sense it and let out a little squawk. If you cried and needed attention I would hook my ankle around the leg of your portable cot to pull it towards the bed. I would sit up, find an angle that caused the least amount of pain, grab a huge handful of your blanket and drag you out onto the bed. The sense of achievement would be massive but I was constantly berated by nursing staff or your Father for doing it by myself. Nurses would come into the room and discover I had wrangled you out of your cot and go to great lengths to explain that patient call buttons were there to be pressed! In truth I didn’t like to bother them. When I told them that, they appeared in the doorway twice as frequently to ask if I needed help. They were amazing and so good to me, to us.

So I learned a valuable lesson and it lead me to the most important act of forgiveness that I would make in my whole life. I always thought I never felt anything about the woman who gave birth to me. I never knew her and didn’t feel any kind of attachment. Yet it was massively important for me to do things differently for you, to ensure you didn’t have the same experience of abandonment that I had. I realised that the wound was so old and so deep that I felt it had become fused with me, that it was me. But wounds are never, ever you.

I let that wound rise to the surface, finally, fully and completely. I let go the imbedded hurt I had for the loss of a beautiful entry into this world. You see, she gave me the most precious gift ever; she gave birth to me.

I forgave a woman I have never met and allowed myself to understand the heartache she must have felt at giving away her baby. She said goodbye to a lifetime of memories and a future she could not predict nor be a part of. Our society did not provide a loving and accepting space to women who were not married and found themselves pregnant. What a painful experience for her to have. I hope with my whole heart that she has forgiven herself because I have nothing but love for her.

Seamus, forgiveness is a transformative power that will release you from the shackles of resentment, blame and guilt. It will free you from anger and unworthiness. Forgiveness has an incredible beauty that you cannot live without. Use it with reckless abandon. We are connected by life energy to everything. We are not separate so abandonment is merely a belief, a concept of the mind, therefore it is not real. Only love is real and forgiveness is the path to it.

“The door to my heart opens inward. I move through forgiveness to love” – Louise Hay

Light Minded Spirituality

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Dear Seamus,

As most of us do when we are faced with a huge life-altering challenge, we bargain. When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer I would lie awake through the night, my body frail with chemotherapy drugs, and beg for my life. I made a lot of promises to God; that I would do this and that in exchange for my survival. When I made it out the other side of cancer treatment and held my arms wide open in gratitude, I did not forget the contract I forged with the almighty in my darkest hours. I just didn’t know what it entailed. So like most things I approach in life, I go the whole hog. If the life giver of all things had spared me, then I owed it to them to spend my remaining days in prayerful meditation, communing with spirit and acknowledging with immense gratitude the fact that I was still here. Or did I ?

What does it mean to be spiritual? Is it a term that conjures up a liberation from all form and human vice? Or is it just another dualistic label? Is it yet another template to subscribe to? I have been pondering for some time how to blend my powerful moments of blissful awareness with the day to day duties of being a human being. If I pick my nose whilst reading The Power of Now, does that diminish my enlightenment? Can I experience the timelessness and weightlessness of a great meditation session in the morning, only to fling my mobile phone down the hallway in exasperation that evening?

For a short time I considered becoming a Sanga as part of the Buddhist religion. I was drawn to the simplicity of a life dedicated to compassion and service to others. I did my research and as much as it appealed to me in some aspects, I just couldn’t justify the complete commitment it required. I also had to question what that meant for my future. I had long anticipated your arrival, Seamus, but with no relationship and infertility hanging over me, it wasn’t looking promising. Yet I couldn’t shake it – and if I became a Sanga that would be a massive road block to your existence.

As I was in the process of shedding all ideas about right and wrong, good and bad, I began to question what my obligations might be. Our human training ground is delivered to us through the filters of the mind. I experience my mind in several ways and one of those ways is as a huge filing cabinet. Every piece of information coming through must be processed, labelled and filed away. When I decided to leaf through the rather large cabinet on Spirituality, there were a number of files absent. I couldn’t seem to find the folder detailing ANGER, DISAPPOINTMENT, OVERWHELMENT or IMPATIENCE. There was no ASSERTIVENESS or OPINION files either. As clear as day I could see MEDITATION, YOGA and HERBAL TEA. I could see the dog eared HAPPINESS, ACCEPTANCE and JOY and right at the front was a label with huge lettering named PIOUSNESS.

The most startling discovery I made was laying my hands on a very thick file called PERFECTION. That was a real moment of realisation. I had put spirituality and perfection together. I’m talking about the pursuit of perfection, like avoiding mistakes and presenting as sparkly white faultlessness. The true perfection, from which we are all fashioned, is a given. We are already perfect; we were born that way. Nothing can ever take that away from you Seamus, my gorgeous boy. What happens is that as we grow we start to attach layers of ideas and experiences and soon, we can’t see our perfection any longer. Things happen to us which we want to label as mistakes, failures or successes when really it is all just experience. Mistakes are experience, failures are experience, and successes are experience. Plain and simple.

So I decided to burn the whole cabinet and start over! I began the process of creating my own definition of spirituality. My home doesn’t smell of Nag Champa incense, it’s more a blend of shortbread and wet dog. I don’t spend my days sitting cross legged meditating but when I’m in bed at night I cuddle your Daddy and think of you asleep in your cot and feel gratitude fill every cell of my body. I haven’t purified my diet from wheat, dairy, sugar and animal products. I drink my coffee and eat chocolate with absolute joy.

This incredible self-acceptance has been a side effect of cancer in my life. My wish for you is that you don’t need an experience like cancer to strip you back and remind you who you are. My wish for you is that you simply will not forget in the first place. You will forge your own relationship with God, the source, the Holy Spirit, pure consciousness or whatever label you want to put on it. In the meantime, you will grow up in a home knowing without a shadow of a doubt that you are loved and that you are love itself. That to me, is what being spiritual is all about.

“The Tao is the treasure-house, the true nature, the secret source of everything” – Tao Te Ching