Together we did it! 74 FREE #EmergingProud through NOTEs books will be distributed to spread HOPE to those in need with your donations

A HUGE thank YOU! to all of you who attended and donated to our #EmergingProud through NOTEs book launch event on Sunday 12th May…

Together we raised enough to purchase 74 copies of these little beauties for FREE distribution around mental health facilities / GP surgeries and therapy centres in the hope that they reach those who may need to read the inspirational stories the most…

If you missed out, you can watch the recording back HERE to find out what we got up to, and why we’re so passionate about this cause.

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If you’d like to support our project and message, we can no longer take donations via Crowdcast, but for just 2 purchases of these books via Amazon we can donate 1 for FREE;

CLICK HERE TO MAKE YOUR PURCHASE

From Nicole, Mandy, myself and the KindaProud team – we are so very grateful for your kindness ❤

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Can facing our pain, rather than pushing it away, set us free? Jeannet is accepting her recent experience to enable her to dive deeper into her shadows

Our healing journeys continue until the day we die. Life happens, and with the constant flux and flow brings new growth challenges which constantly force us to reflect on our limiting beliefs and, perhaps, internal prejudices. Our stories do not fit neatly into one ‘life trauma’ category or another, but can span across the whole spectrum…

Jeannet, who shared her story for our pocketbook #EmergingProud through NOTEs, demonstrates this as she courageously shares an update for the community, which resonates with our next pocketbook title; #EmergingProud through disordered eating, body image and low self-esteem. 

As Jeannet so eloquently says, it’s all about reaching a point of self-acceptance and self-love in order that we can set ourselves free…

“What happened your nose?” The Big Issue seller’s question still runs through me. Mid April I had surgery to remove an infiltrative basal cell cancer from the tip of my nose. The 28mm wound was repaired using skin from my clavicle – now a lump of pasty looking skin on the tip, with two large blood crusts where necrotic tissue was cut away.

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Today is the first day I am out without a dressing. Writing this is part of trying to make sense of what I’m feeling, much of which feels irrational. I’ve still got my arms and legs, right? I can breathe – all my organs are functioning … Then why is this so hard?

So you can understand me better (and maybe so I can find an anchor in myself, as I was before) I will tell you a bit about myself.

I’m a 63 year old woman … Actually – there the sentence stops. It feels like nothing else matters – that I have great friends, a worthwhile job, a house, a lovely garden. Something is overriding all that. It feels like my biggest pain is not physical …

Yesterday, as I first left the consulting room, I felt an overwhelming sense of exposure and shame. It took me a while to grasp what that was … Shame for what? Images from the media flooded in – of beautiful women with perfect skin. They somehow merged with memories of childhood fairy tales. Snow White, in particular … She was beautiful and innocent. A prince fell in love with her and saved her. She was my favourite fairy tale character when I was young.

The thought is there immediately – that I am not, now. My face has been damaged. The face with which I greet the world and by which people first know me. I dread going back to work – my colleagues seeing me. Finding out … what?

All my life I have tried to be … like Snow White, I guess, at some level. I have lived with the constant fear that I will be found out. That I will be shown up as a fraud – ugly, a failure, maybe even bad. Something in me is lacking. I feel that most at work – always that sense that I will have done something wrong, or not done something. Something terrible will happen and it will be my fault. I am a perfectionist and work excessively to manage my anxiety and maintain the picture I have created.

And when The Thing happens, people will turn round and look … like they’re looking at my nose now.  And they will see …

Of course, it’s me that needs to see something … The fallen, broken Snow White in myself. The core failure of not upholding the impossible illusion of perfect beauty and innocence.

That will resonate with many of you. Increasingly too many of us are trying too hard, harming ourselves, even, to conform to what we are told we should be – beautiful, yes, but it goes wider than that. We have to be clever, earn a lot, be big consumers, men have to be dominant and powerful, women perfect wives and mothers. Of course, there is a movement away from that, but the stereotypes are still there and powerful, and we have taken them so deeply into ourselves that we are barely aware of them.

Until something happens.

I realise I have faced this conflict before, 35 years ago. I had entered an inappropriate sexual relationship with a man who was a father figure to me. This stirred up an internal conflict I was unable to resolve. Deep inside, barely visible in the shadows, rage was clawing to get out while Snow White did everything she could to be loving, giving and always available – including starving herself (I was bulimic for several years) and coming very close to depression and other forms of self-harm.

That situation and my bulimia resolved with the ending of the relationship and (it seems) my avoidance of fully committing to another. The situation resolved, but the stand-off between ‘the face I present to the world’ and my deep, dark sense of need, rage, impotence and failure continues.

Except now my face is visibly broken. I look into myself through the mirror and catch a glimpse of dark movement.

I don’t know how my story ends, but I know it has to do with recovering something from the dark – something that is strong and powerful and will remove the spell that has ruled my life. That sounds great, but I feel terrified of a tidal wave; of my safe and ordered world falling apart. There is a price to pay for transformation and part of me wants to hold on.

Can I fix my nose enough to hide the scars?

I know I am more than the face of my persona and the dark of my Shadow. I can rest in that infinite space away from my small, embodied sense of self. I can find beauty there. I can escape.

But there is something about the physicality of this wound that pulls me back, down, deep into myself. I stand in the forest of my depth, where things stir in the shadows. It is time to fight my fear. I must face myself, as I am, with all my imperfections.

I must find a way to accept, hold and love myself, to set myself free.

Have you experienced overcoming a personal life challenge that you feel ready to share in order to inspire others that there IS a way through the darkness? Have you found answers in your pain?

If you resonate with any of our next pocketbooks of hope and transformation, please get in touch with the corresponding Rep for that book to share your story;

For our next book; #EmergingProud through disordered eating, body image and low self- esteem

Please message Amy at: info@soul-shine.org.uk

If you’ve been affected by suicide, either your own attempt, or that of someone close to you – to submit your story for our #EmergingProud through Suicide book

Please contact Kelly at: info@kellymichellewalsh.com

Or For Mandy’s KindaProud book:  #EmergingProud through Trauma and Abuse 

Please contact Mandy at: ambrieleve@gmail.com

You never know, your message of hope could save someone’s life ❤

 

 

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Sacred Space Retreat for Mental Health Professionals

Are you a mental health professional struggling with the cognitive dissonance caused by working in a system that does not acknowledge human pain as a natural part of being alive?

Do you need some time out just for YOU, and to connect with others who feel the same?

We have 2 spaces left on this bespoke retreat, starting 3 weeks today; 

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Click here to see our idyllic venue for the weekend

What the weekend holds;

Friday 14th June  

3 – 5pm: Arrive at this country retreat and find yourself breathing in the spaciousness of Norfolk’s air and the relaxing welcome that Breathing Space provides. Room check- in, make yourself at home and meet the group.

6.30pm Home-cooked organic or locally produced healthy dinner

8 – 9.30pm: Evening session: Introduction to the weekend and ‘getting to know each other’  –  setting our intentions for the weekend, and evening relaxing meditation

Saturday 15th June

From 8am: A healthy breakfast will be served

9.30am: Movement meditation and connection session

10.30 am: Group session; sharing circle; our stories and what connects us

12.30pm: Group lunch

2pm – 6pm: Group ‘heArt-istry’ workshop with Kate Fisher; expressing the challenges we face through creativity, and bringing the solutions to consciousness

7pm Home-cooked organic or locally produced healthy dinner

Social connection evening (*No alcohol is provided, but please feel free to bring your own if you wish)

Sunday 16th June

From 8.30am:  A healthy breakfast will be served (Rooms to be vacated by 10am)

10am: Gong bath / sound healing meditation experience with Paulina Jones

11am – 12.30: What can we take forward from here?

Goodbyes and departures

Your investment is only £299 for a single room fully catered inclusive of all activities – email Katie at: mendthegap@hotmail.com to reserve your place 

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Meanha from Norwich stands up against Islamaphobia as she #Emerges into her mission to be unapologetically herself

Emotional distress does not discriminate; discrimination causes emotional distress. Meanha courageously shares how being in a cultural minority has led to her being the victim of mindless attacks, and how these acts of ignorance led to her questionning herself causing mental health struggles.

Emotional pain connects us, it is the same whatever race, culture, gender or sexuality we are. Pain unites us in our shared humanity… and from that connection back to Self and others we can rise into our mission, as Meanha is now unapologetically doing;

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Self-Esteem + Islamophobia = Mission

My experience is a conundrum of various different issues that have contributed to my journey with my mental health and self-respect. I don’t think anyone would be able to identify and blame any one incident or event, rather it is a concoction of multiple events and social-cultural factors that lead to the disintegration of my mental health. Followed by a venture of growth, discovery, resilience and being unapologetically me.

Growing up in an all-white community, I stuck out like a sore thumb. Being on the larger side and never fitting in clothes made for girls my age didn’t help my self-confidence. As the years went by, I became more and more obsessed with the way that I looked, and how much I weighed and “would people think I’m too brown” if I ate that, wore this, or did/didn’t do that. Identity crisis was an understatement.

Around 13/14 I became desperate to just be like everyone else, and it was a bitter taste every time I failed to fit in. Something always made me different, no matter how hard I tried to leave my religion, culture, norms and values behind. I always tried to make myself feel better about my friendship circles despite being the friend with the “exotic attitude” eating the “foreign food” with the “Asian hair and skin”, and of course the passive racism which I just swallowed with laughter. I had reached absolute rock bottom, and this was my earliest memory of experiencing feelings of worthlessness. I had the intense desire to just disappear.

After reconnecting with my faith around 15/16, I began to find peace in knowing that my purpose in life was not to serve societies ideals of how I should be, and Islam was the one thing that kept me anchored during these turbulent times. After I left school, I put on the hijab as I still feared being “different”. When I donned the hijab, I felt so powerful and beautiful and I felt like no one could take away my shine and confidence. A few weeks later I received a few comments from “friends” whom I later realised were not worth my time and energy, but their comments triggered something. “Am I making myself more different?”. I planted those thoughts to the back of my head, my hijab brought me more happiness in just a few weeks than it had in all my years of existence when I was living for other peoples and their preferences.

After becoming more and more closer to Islam, I wanted to gain better God Consciousness and whilst studying various things at college, I realised just how much our media and government capitalise off their consumers lack of confidence and ability to be comfortable in their own skin. I did not want to be part of that. I decided to wear the Niqab (face veil), and I remember the first day I did. I felt so empowered and invincible. However, overtime, my intentions changed. It became a way for me to be forgotten about and disappear in the back of the classroom. It became a way for me to be socially isolated as people refused to make eye contact with me or ask me for my opinions. It became a way for me to be silently judged in people’s awkward glances which could be so loudly felt. I began to wonder again, “had I done this to myself? Did I deserve this behaviour for being different again?”

In April 2014, I was verbally attacked by a man who claimed I was arrogant, and he was disgusted in what I stand for. He backed me into a shop corner and spat harsher words. I wasn’t angry at him, he was ignorant, I was more upset and embarrassed at the fact that no one defended me. Not even the other Muslims who were standing and watching. I was disappointed and couldn’t help wondering “was I too different for them to stick up for me?”.

In May, myself and a friend were physically attacked on the way home. It was broad daylight on a busy road. The woman who attacked us repeatedly said that we couldn’t be trusted, and we should go back to where we came from. I wasn’t angry at her, I was angrier at the people around us. Opposite was a busy pub where people were laughing, and people were pulling up in their cars to record what was happening on their phones. Eventually, a heavily pregnant Lithuanian woman with broken English came out and helped us, not the perfectly healthy, full English-speaking men who were just watching. I make the point about English speaking, because this woman had 10x the bravery to stop a physical fight whilst being pregnant than all the cowards that had their hands in their pockets.  Again, I was disheartened and had begun to lose faith in humanity.

A few weeks later, I was verbally abused by a man in my local shop who claimed that I was oppressed, and “my book” taught me to be a terrorist. I was ignored so much to the point that when I asked the store manager for help, he responded with “you can take this outside, I don’t want any trouble in here”. I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me whole.

At this point, I experienced agoraphobia, PTSD with night terrors; triggers included news articles of similar attacks or anyone who looked like these people, and depression with voices that told me I was not worth helping which is why no one stood up for me, and I was the one to blame for what happened because I was too different. Not only did this affect me, but my family were on edge about all the women’s whereabouts at all times, and who was next?

I was without education and work for a long time, and even now I still find myself hesitating when going into new places or accepting new opportunities with the fear of “What other types of islamophobia could I face?”. 5 years later, and the effects of these attacks still stay with me. I’m vigilant whenever I’m out, making sure I know the time and exact location of where I am, making a mental note of people’s height, what they are wearing, eye colour, and registration numbers in the occasion that something does happen. It is exhausting. However, I’m in a much better place than what I was 5 years ago, and I can actively respond in the face of hate with goodness and love.

It is with a heavy heart that I no longer wear the Niqab around Norfolk or when I am on my own as Islamophobia has increased, however I still wear it proudly when I am travelling, at events or when public speaking. I’m still raising awareness and if anything, these events have fuelled my drive to continue with my mission.

Please bear in mind, this is just scratching the surface of what I have experienced as I have not mentioned the daily hate myself, and other Muslims face, and there are many other women and men who have experienced far worse on a greater level of hate and violence. I’m very grateful and blessed to not be a victim of any other form’s terrorism such as acid throwing, gun and knife crime, or vehicle violence. I’m also grateful to have recovered from my eating difficulties and become a more content version of me as well as growing every day, but experiencing mental distress is harrowing and I wish nothing but peace for those in distress.

You can find out more about where I work here: www.inspiritedminds.org.uk and you can find me ranting daily on Instagram: minha_of_norwich

Meanha with her cat; a vision of unconditional love ❤

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Meanha’s raw poem gives us a peek at her Warrior power behind her niqab…

My niqab;

It stops me from cutting, smoking and unnecessary hating.

It stops me from doubting, tripping and unnecessary sinning.

It stops me from greed, so I take heed and therefore I am freed.

My niqab;

It reignites hoping, helping and necessary loving.

It’s rejuvenating, enlightening and absolutely voicing.

It is my own deed, that I desperately need and therefore I am freed.

My niqab;

A veil of honour, a piece of Armor

Protecting a wild flower that holds superpower

Strong enough for a stampede, promised to succeed, and therefore I am freed.

My niqab;

What is it that you see? Oppression to a certain degree? Would it be crazy, to say that, the thing that oppresses me is the very thing that sets me free?

My niqab;

It’s more than just modesty, beyond bodily, above policy, and in all honesty, I’m saying this politely, this is no apology.

For I am a woman that is no wannabe, I refuse to play this monopoly of terrorism and sexism, feminism and fascism.

I am not to be used as a euphemism.

This dogmatism is part of a larger mechanism, but I do not participate in this escapism.

Why?

My niqab;

My identity that I have been beaten for, spat at and ashamed.

Yes, I have pained, but I will not be trained to be chained to the ideals of this society.

Based on vanity, silently, unjustifiably causing anxieties.

For I am a woman of La Ilaha Illa Allah, a statement that is engraved, and allows me to be unscathed.

We are on a mission to reach more people and spread the message that it is OK to be who you are, that you are MORE than enough already, that the world needs your gifts and that you are more than worthy of living an amazing life.

Please message Amy at: info@soul-shine.org.uk

If you would like to share your journey of overcoming challenges with disordered eating, body image and low self- esteem.

Your voice is valuable 

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Can Madness save the World? Breaking Down in the Service of Breaking Through

Do you remember Dr Paris Williams from the #EmergingProud film? Paris is a Clinical Psychologist from New Zealand who wrote ‘Re-thinking Madness’ after his own brush with ‘psychosis’. Paris and I have recently reconnected with regards to our unfolding work; as Paris says, things are emerging organically into a form that could never be fully predicted but which is perfectly in line with the manifest destiny of the cosmos… 

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It appears that there has been a deep messianic calling passed down in my family through my mother’s side–an all too clear recognition of how misguided, destructive and generally disconnected from heart and our mother Gaia the human race has (collectively) become. And this awareness appears to come along with an intense longing to do something about it. I have to say that this sometimes overwhelming awareness/calling has been a factor in our venturing into extreme states, at least speaking for my grandmother, my mother and myself (I’m not sure how far back this pattern goes).

Anyway, with diligent dedication to mindfulness practice, continued embodiment and self-care, I’ve managed to integrate these experiences into a more grounded and functional form in my life. But the rich yet painful awareness–a “tender heart of sadness”–and an unrelenting calling have remained with me, and its most current manifestation has been the development of the Centre for Non-violent and Conscious Living.

I’ve always been a firm believer in the principle of organismic wisdom–simply set up the conditions and trust the intrinsic wisdom of life to flourish. I liken the CNCL platform (as initially manifested in the form of this website) to an “imaginal cell,” those mysterious and wonderful cells that remain active as a caterpillar disintegrates into amorphous “goo” during its pupal stage, which guides its transformation into the much more resourced butterfly.

I believe that our society needs (and has!) many imaginal cells that can contribute to the transformation of human society from an over-consuming and blind “caterpillar” to a very lightly treading, pollinating/nourishing, harmoniously living “butterfly.” I think the key with such imaginal cells is that they are not overly directive (or directed) but simply create the platform from which the wonders of organismic wisdom can weave its magic and creativity, ultimately allowing the organism to emerge organically into a form that could never be fully predicted but which is perfectly in line with the manifest destiny of the cosmos.

We have finally launched our website!   https://cncl.info/

…I’ve reposted my classic article that provides an overview of the key concepts that first led me to embark upon the development of this charity:  “Can Madness Save the World?”

facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/events/2333353926942817/permalink/2333376653607211/

linkedin page:  https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6532819012341108736/

…and don’t miss our “Plant-based” page–an enormous project but well worth the effort!  (…and our complete Conscious Living Resolution–with gratitude to Matt Bear and Nonviolence United for the initial spark…)

…and here is a new article I just posted that some of you may enjoy:  “Will our Domination be Our Downfall?”

Amazing work Paris… what magic manifests when we let go and trust the great unfolding! ❤

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Ivy found the answers for her healing lay in the darkness, not in her appearance

You may remember Ivy, now happily based in Florida, from the #EmergingProud film. Hospitalised due to a spiritual awakening unearthing unconscious trauma for healing, Ivy was once mute – the only way she was able to express was through her art. Now Ivy has created a business with the coping mechanism that she loves, as she says, in her darkness she found herself and the path to her future…

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Early childhood to me felt so wonderful. I was taught unconditional love by being given unconditional love. My heart was so full and my spirit so carefree. I had two loving parents, brother, sisters, cousins, lots of family and friends. School was good for me, even though I was a bit shy I was an excellent student and a pretty good athlete.

I was truly blessed.

Then at some point I became depressed. Family turmoil and separation occurred when life, work and everything lost balance. Loss of balance and lack of the ability to feel love made me lose the key to my heart. But this was not so true, I later found out.

Art, learning, and continued love and support from others helped me through my dark spaces. Tragedy took blow after blow, I seemed to rise and fall with each obstacle like the hurdles in track and field, but true love grounded me every time I got lost.

At some point I developed an eating disorder in all of this. I received some mixed messages from my environment about what I ought to look like and how that should make me feel about myself… Some of it came from magazines, some of it from kids at school, some from tv or even innocent bystanders who meant me no harm.

Some of my artwork reflected this:

So I began to binge and purge, and restrict… My two sided reward was soon attained, so I thought, when I saw myself become thinner. As I looked more ‘beautiful’, I felt more love. I needed that so much that I became addicted to self judgement and self deprecation. I loved everyone else around me so much but I couldn’t seem to love myself enough to take good gentle care of myself. Then one day I fell in love. I fell in love and found true love outside of myself, outside of my comfort zones with the man of my dreams. I never expected this to ever happen. So much heartache made me doubt if true love existed. But here it was. And I was so happy to care for someone, that together we began to take such good care of each other. In giving and loving, I received love and my heart was full once again. This natural heart fulfillment healed my soul, but there was still work to to do. So much work. I still deep down believed that my beauty was only skin deep, that it could easily fade and with that my value as a person would be downgraded. That was the lie that I once believed and had to work my way through.

It wasn’t easy, but with proper love and support, compassion and understanding, and a little courage… I learned to love myself and forgive myself as well as others, no matter what. Perfectionism has new meaning. I no longer wish to be perfect, I wish to feel perfect as I am, with room to grow. With true love, I found myself again in all my dark spaces, and opened the door to new friendships. I found that it was not that hard to love myself after all, and if I stumbled, I had so many wonderful people to help lift me back up.

Returning the favor and giving back has become my pleasure and purpose. True love, self love, and an open heart, though heavy at times, is so worth it. I am a work in progress, and I love my beautiful mess! 

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🌼ivy

Ivy now channels her passion for helping others into creating art and has recently started an organic creative business, ORDERGANIC    With her husband Eddie they grow a variety of organic cullinary and medicinal herbs, vegetables, fruits, and create all natural organic body products. The Phoenix has risen! ❤

We are on a mission to reach more people and spread the message that it is OK to be who you are, that you are MORE than enough already, that the world needs your gifts and that you are more than worthy of living an amazing life.

Please message Amy at: info@soul-shine.org.uk

If you are ready to share your challenges with disordered eating, body image and low self- esteem. Your voice is so valuable and we want you to join us in the Kinda Proud series of Pocket Books of Hope

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KindaProud pocket book of HOPE 2 is set to be launched at SoulShine’s ‘Thank you Body’ festival on 12th July!

Remember our shiny Soul Amy, Rep for the 2nd pocket book in our KindaProud series; Emerging Proud through disordered eating, body image and low self-esteem?

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Amy’s on the look- out for ordinary people with extraordinary stories to share in her book. This is what she’s been up to recently on her search;

Last weekend we (SoulShine) attended the Bodykind Festival which was packed full of Body Positive speakers, inspiring panels, open discussions and lots of dancing!
It was colourful, vibrant and filled to the brim with so much kindness.
The knowledge that people had come from all over the country to be there felt so special. To know that everyone in that hall, both attendees and speakers, were changing perspectives about body image, about how we treat ourselves and each other would then go back to their little corner of the world and spread a little of that empowering message.
So much passion and energy in that room was fuelled by support, laughter, connection and this common understanding that every single person deserves respect, no matter what size, shape, gender or ability.
It felt like a celebration of humanity in all it’s imperfect perfection. It was so exciting to be in that room listening to people’s authentic and raw stories, with love, compassion and understanding that we are all in this together.
As the weekend went on, I found this niggling sensation of frustration start to rise… I started thinking:
“Why don’t we see this on the news and on the front page of EVERY single newspaper?”
I realised that my little world, is actually a bubble of Body Positivity, from the books I read, the conversations I have with my soul sisters, to my social media feed… I feel really grateful to have that as my “normal” now….
More and more people are discovering this world and the magnificent people in it YES, but there are still SO many people isolated, suffering on their own, walking around thinking that they are the ONLY ones feeling this way, when the truth is, we are all feeling it… struggling with shame, struggling in silence.
We are all in this together and when you speak up, voice your truth and start talking to people you trust, you realise that you are not alone, you can be understood and the burden of carrying that shame can dissipate with just one conversation.
When you share your story with others it not only creates a deeper connection but it also allows you to move forward in an empowering way.
We are on a mission to reach more people and spread the message that it is OK to be who you are, that you are MORE than enough already, that the world needs your gifts and that you are more than worthy of living an amazing life.

Please message me if you are ready to #EmergeProud through any challenges with disordered eating, body image and low self- esteem. Your voice is so valuable and we want you to join us in the Kinda Proud series of Pocket Books of Hope

Megan

Please contact Amy at: info@soul-shine.org.uk

Amy’s book will be launched at the ‘Thank you Body’ festival on 12th July in Norwich

It’s free to attend, rock up and BE awesome in your body exactly as it is! ❤

Frstival

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