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The only constant is change
Or the day my face froze
Did you notice the name change? I’m reclaiming the name of my very first on-line offering. (More on that another time). The only constant is change!
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I had my first menopause doula appointment with @katecoddrington on the day my face froze!
The night before, the right side of my face had started to feel numb, I had a funny taste in my mouth and the experience felt similar to a local anaesthetic at the dentist! By the following morning I realised that something very odd was happening! I was taking antibiotics for a “bacterial infection” so took myself off to the pharmacy to check if this was a common side-effect. She looked at me and noted that my eye wasn’t blinking and I was speaking from one side of my mouth.
It turned out that I had a viral infection, Shingles, and I was experiencing a complication known as Ramsay Hunt Syndrome; this occurs when a shingles outbreak affects the facial nerve near one of your ears. In addition to the painful shingles rash on my face, I had facial paralysis and hearing loss.
I was relieved that I wasn’t having a stroke and worried about being late for my appointment with Kate, so I accepted my new prescription (now for anti-virals) and rushed off.
But let me rewind a little.
Over the last 5-years, I have been turned upside down and shaken out. I moved back to the UK with Simon and River, we travelled around the British Isles until the pandemic locked us down in Scotland. At one point both of Simon’s parents were in hospital. His father came home; his mother did not.
I’ve broken contracts that felt burdonesome, lost friends, nearly sold my business and then picked it apart to see what remained. I took River out of school and embarked on un-schooling. I survived my “breakdown year” and realised I was in the trenches of peri-menopause.
And through this time I also met incredible people and started to weave together a new network. One of those people is Kate Codrington who I met in year-long Fairytale Medicine Course.
She is the author of Second Spring, The Self-Care Guide to Menopause and after much dithering, I finally signed up for her 12-month Menopause Doula Service.
And so there I was for our first session; I arrived into the zoom space, saw myself on screen and was flooded with emotion and realised that I knew nothing about the condition I was experiencing!
Kate held me with such compassion and generosity as my mind whirled and I vocally traveled the length of my life at speed, whilst trying to understand why I was experiencing paralysis on the right side of my face.
I am so grateful for the serendipity that I had booked that appointment weeks before.
One of the invitations she offered me was to open a dialogue with the frozen parts.
That conversation has been on-going and profound.
I have always seen myself as an apprentice to change. I’ve embraced moving on to the next thing. I’m spontaneous and rebel against being static or confined. I navigate change with a charged enthusiasm for the new, the exciting, the different.
But then my body showed me something else!
I learnt that part of me was stuck in the past. It was as if I’d left an aspect of my heart and soul in Australia and I was “frozen” in this in between space.
For years I’ve been waking up with a vivid memory of our life in Australia and a deep feeling of regret and anxiety that I’m in the wrong place; that I’ve lost something important.
Gently over the last few weeks of speaking to my paralysed face, I’ve been making peace with my choice to be here. I realised that the journey of returning “home” has been a mourning of sorts. In my rush to the new and the next, I hadn’t honoured the life we had created or allowed myself to grieve leaving that part of our shared lives behind.
Denmark, Western Australia was where River was conceived and born; where Simon and I opened our first business together; where I attended and held my first Circle.
Through gentle daily rituals, I’ve been welcoming back those aspects of myself held in limbo and calling back all the disparate parts of my being to become whole again.
A couple of days ago I noticed that my waking vision was faded; it was if the intricate vividness of the people and places we left behind was dissolving.
Alongside this inner dialogue and ritual practice, I have been co-creating and curating The Sacred Grief Retreat with my dear grief mentor and friend @kathryn__sullivan.
This creation process has supported me in unexpected ways to grieve for past identities, and my former life in Australia, and to give myself permission to embrace THE change (literally) and navigate a different life.
On Monday we went live together on Instagram to share all the details. I was uncomfortable and self-consciousness, yet we had the most beautiful conversation and shared deeply.
As I listened to Kathryn sharing about our retreat, I noticed that my eye was partially blinking. After 11 days, I was beginning to thaw! And now, 2-weeks since my face froze I have some movement, my face is less lopsided and there is a hint of my smile traveling to the right-hand side of my face.
I don’t know how long it will take to recover fully, or if I will have any permanent damage, but I know it’s time to surrender my hold on the past. The memories still exist, but now I can fully experience what the present has to offer.
The only constant is change.
I hope that whatever this season holds for you, you are able to tend to yourself and the communities you are part of with compassion and courage whilst receiving love, nourishment and support.
With you in Circle in these (r)evolutionary times
Keep reading for my Book of the Moment and Circle School Happenings. x
Book of the Moment
I have loved this book, The Wild Edge of Sorrow, since it was recommended to me by Danielle Dulsky in 2021; I have read it cover to cover; I open it and read a passage when I need to; I have created a grief ritual for my Circles based on The Five Gates of Grief that Francis Weller shares (a version of which I will be sharing at The Sacred Grief Retreat) and it has helped me create my gentle daily rituals over the last couple of weeks.
In our live on Monday, Kathryn closed our time together with this quote from the book:
Ritual does not rid us of the wounds we carry or free us forever from the weight of grief. Ritual is a maintenance practice that offers us the means of tending to wounds and sorrows, for offering gratitude, and for reconciling conflicts, thereby allowing our psyches regular periods of release and renewal. Being human is hard, especially in a society virtually devoid of rituals that are intended to help us wade through the waters of living intact.
I usually say that the books that I share are suggestions, but this one is a recommendation! If you have read it, I’d love to know about your experience of doing so.
p.s. I love sharing books and I love supporting Indie bookshops. If you can’t get to a local bookshop or prefer to order on-line, the links that I share take you to bookshop.org. On their site you can choose a specific bookshop to support and they’ll receive 30% of the cover price (or almost all of the profit) or, 10% of the cover price contributes to an earnings pool that is evenly distributed among participating independent bookshops each month. In addition, I am a member of their affiliate program which means I receive 10% commission and an additional 10% goes to Indie bookshops. So it’s a win for book lovers and bookshops.
Circle School Happenings
Find me on Facebook
I have ventured back to the land of Facebook and have a new business page. If you play on FB, please do connect with me here. The reason for my come-back is because most of my one on one clients and many of the members in The Grove and participants in my courses use Facebook to share their Circles and other offerings and it feels important that I am actively using the App and staying up to date with how it’s working and how FB events can help to fill Circles.
The Sacred Grief Retreat
This unique retreat takes place from September 18th - 21st. Kathryn and I are calling together space holders and community organisers, circle facilitators and wellbeing practitioners to the wild, nurturing land of Devon, UK. Through ritual, ceremony, circles and workshops we will empower and inspire one another to tend to the grief within ourselves and within our communities. Find out more here.
One on One Sessions:
I currently have single one on one sessions available in July and August. If you’ve wondering about working with me one on one, now is your time to book! Choose from:
You can find full details and how to book by clicking the links.
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